New Delhi, June 14: There is something unexplainable, eerily frightening about mob fury in the country. The frequency with which mob vigilantism is rearing its ugly head pinpoints towards systematic failure of the government machinery and society at large.
Why people in the country are going berserk and lynching their own? What explains mob violence and lynching? Sometimes if the death of an innocent person at the hands of an angry and a violent group of people is attributed to cow smuggling, on another occasion, the victim is being sacrificed at the altar of hate politics.
The reasons for people to take law into their hands are many, but the result is always the same--death of an innocent, helpless man. Earlier, while there was an impression that often victims of lynching are Muslims and Dalits, the theory is slowly getting shattered.
If in 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh was lynched for allegedly storing beef in his refrigerator, on Friday (June 8) Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das were killed by a crowd in Assam's Karbi Anglong district over suspicion of being child lifters.
As the nation was still grappling with the tragic and horrific deaths of Nilotpal and Abhijeet, on Wednesday reports stated that two Muslim men were lynched in Jharkhand's Godda on suspicion of cattle theft.
Tomorrow, it could be you and I, who might join the list of victims of mob vigilantism. The reasons for our sudden, unpredicted deaths could be as flimsy and unsubstantiated like the ones that lead to the killings of Akhlaq, Nilotpal and Abhijeet.
It is not that earlier the nation did not saw such gruesome murders by faceless mob. Violence has been a part and parcel of our society (for that matter any country), but what makes these lynching horrific is the fact that these days the crime is recorded on smartphones and circulated on social media for all to see.
In many occasions, the crowd fury was triggered by rumours spread on social media, an example of which is the recent lynching episode in Karbi Anglong. The worst part is that most often the perpetrators of lynching (in spite of being seen in viral videos) go scot free. Families of Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, who was killed by gau rakshak (cow vigilantes) in Rajasthan last year, and many like them are still waiting for justice.
Who dares to film such barbarity unfolding in our neighbourhoods? It's a spectator, one among us, who is privy to violence and killing. Why no one from the crowd ever stands up to save the victim? Why policemen always arrive late to the crime spot?
All these questions mostly have no answers, but the fact remains that at least 101 people have died because of mob violence from 2015 till now, as per a report by The Quint.
According to an IndiaSpend content analysis of the English media done in July last year, of the 28 Indians who died because of mob violence since 2010, 24 were Muslim, or 86 per cent. As many as 124 people were also injured in these attacks, added the IndiaSpend report. "More than half (52 per cent) of these attacks were based on rumours, our analysis found," wrote IndiaSpend.
While there is no government data to prove the exact number of deaths related to lynching, most cases follow a pattern--a mob going berserk over a rumour on WhatsApp or Facebook, victims are attacked till they are dead, the gory episodes are filmed and circulated on social media, policemen arrive late to the crime spot and at times direct or indirect support to the perpetrators of the crime by political parties.
Who can we blame for such crimes? Is the government responsible for the spread of unprecedented hatred and intolerance towards each other? Or lynching is a social malady that has become cancerous?
Before mob lynching becomes normal like rapes and murders--we need to ponder--is our democracy becoming a mobocracy?