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Public Lynching: A new gift for India

“Lynching is an extrajudicial punishment by an informal group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a group.” Amy Wood wrote in her book “Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947”. This practice has a long history, but the term “lynching” originated in American Civil War in the late 1800s.

In today’s India, lynching is becoming a daily affair. People are taking law into their own hands and this unlawful practice needs to be addressed and stopped on priority to save the democratic fabric of India. Our law makers knew that if people start taking laws in their hands then there would chaos all around and for the same reason Constitution of India has introduce a process to seek justice through courts. But in today’s India, lynching is becoming the new normal.

While killing over ones food habits is a severe crime that should attract a strict punishment form the law enforcement agencies and government should issue immediate notice to all the Police stations to restrict such activities strictly, instead cow vigilante groups and members have received accolades for their horrific acts.

Incidents of public lynching seemed to have gained immense traction after Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri on September 28, 2015 and spreading like a disease. This triggered a sense of uneasiness among the minority communities back then, but it was rubbished saying as one time incident by prominent leaders. In most cases, ‘cow vigilantism’ has become a regular excuse, and in the name of ‘cow vigilantism’ individuals are being attacked, dominantly from the minority Muslim and Dalit community.

However, the latest case, where a 15-year-old Muslim youth Juniad Khan was lynched to death on a train shows that these acts of violence are not related to cow vigilantism, but have spiraled into a notion of hatred for minorities in the country. An Indian Express opinion highlights how a sense of hyper-nationalism has gripped the entire nation, resulting in India turning into a ‘Hindu Pakistan’. Considering the number of public lynching, the aforementioned saying does strike a chord.

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While killing over ones food habits is a severe crime that should attract a strict punishment form the law enforcement agencies and government should issue immediate notice to all the Police stations to restrict such activities strictly, instead cow vigilante groups and members have received accolades for their horrific acts. Further, police inaction in these cases has have provided safe heavens for such fringe groups to rise, resulting in a clear disregard for one’s constitutional rights.

Here is a list of tragic public lynchings that have horrified the nation:

Kherlanji Massacre: 2006

One of the first cases of lynching was reported in 2006, when four people were lynched over a land dispute at Kherlanji in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district on September 29, 2016,

Dimapur Lynching: 2015

A mob of least 7,000 to 8,000 enraged people broke into Dimapur Central Jail, Nagaland in February 2015, dragged 35-year-old Syed Farid Khan accused in a rape case out, paraded him naked, stoned him, thrashed him, dragged him for over seven kilometers, tying a rope to his waist from a motorcycle, killing him and displayed his body on a clock tower. There were conflicting medical reports initially about the rape. The woman who filed the complaint said, she was raped and then she was not. Khan’s family claimed he was framed and said that the woman invited Khan to a hotel, forced him to drink and demanded INR 2,00,000 from him.

Dadri Lynching: 2015

In September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq, a 52 year old Muslim man and his son Danish, were attacked by a mob in Uttar Pradesh’s Bisara village near Dadri with sticks and bricks, accusing them of stealing and slaughtering a cow calf and storing and consuming beef. Danish was severely injured in the attack. Akhlaq was thrashed till he died.

This was the first case of a Muslim lynched by a Hindu mob in the name of cow and beef.

A preliminary inquiry by the Uttar Pradesh Veterinary Department said the meat recovered from Akhlaq’s refrigerator was not beef but of “goat progeny”. In a year, a forensic lab in Mathura, in a fresh report, said that the meat was of a cow or its progeny.

However new report is said to be politically motivated to normalize the lynching saying the mob was “emotionally charged” since cow slaughter is an extremely emotional issue for Hindus.

Alwar Lynching: 2017

Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old Muslim dairy farmer and at least 14 others who were accused of smuggling cattle and were beaten black and blue on a national highway in Rajasthan’s Alwar. Khan succumbed to his injuries later in some days. The Rajasthan Police slapped a case against Khan and others, who had government receipts that allowed them to ferry the cows, on charges of “smuggling cattle”.

Rajasthan Home Minister GC Kataria said, “The blame lies with both sides. When they know that cow smuggling is banned in Rajasthan and there is a law against it, why were they doing it?”

Jharkhand Lynching: 2017

Seven people were lynched by villagers in different parts of Jharkhand on the same day, over suspicion that they were child lifters. Two men were beaten to death in Sosomoli village, one man was lynched in the Shobhapur village, and three others were killed in Nagadih. All it took for this kind of violence to erupt were a few WhatsApp messages warning people of some child lifters being active in the Kolkhan area of Jamshedpur, Isn’t it a matter of shame for us?

Out of the seven, four were Muslims and three were Hindus. This news has garnered the attention of western media as well.

Delhi Lynching: 2017

Ravindra Kumar, an e-rickshaw driver in national capital Delhi was lynched after stopping two drunken DU students from urinating in public. This incident happened when these youngsters returned to spot with group of 20 and was repeatedly hit with stones and bricks.

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Pratapgarh Lynching: 2017

Zafar Khan, an activist based out of Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district, was lynched by civic officials and locals for objecting photographs taken of women defecating in open.

Reports say that he was lynched, but the post-mortem report said that Khan died of a heart attack.

Haryana Lynching: 2017

A 17-year-old youngster and two of his brothers were attacked by a mob of over 20 people inside a train going from Tughlakabad, Delhi to Ballabhgarh on June 22. The deceased, Junaid, was killed in the attack after being stabbed. Junaid’s brother, who survived despite multiple stabs, told media that the dispute was over train seats.

The minor altercation that started over train seat escalated to mob violence and Junaid and his brothers, majorly outnumbered, got thrashed mercilessly by 20 people.

Junaid’s brother Hashim later told media that before beating Junaid and his brothers; the mob pointed at the skull cap (the one Muslims wear) on his head, and said, “They are Muslims, Pakistanis, and anti-nationals. They would be eating beef as well,” and pulled his skull cap off. Beef has become a tool to normalize lynchings.

Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir Lynching: 2017

On June 22, Srinagar’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ayyub Pandit was lynched by an angry Muslim mob outside Nowhatta’s Jamia Masjid. Ayyub had opened fire at a group of people who caught him clicking pictures of people coming out of the mosque. Three people were injured in the firing, reports said.

There is no doubt that the lynching mobs are motivated and mobilized by the hatred and prejudice propagated by dirty politics. And normalizing such mentality will only lead to more instances of public murders and “mob justice”. It is high time to question our conscience that what purpose these public murders serve to our nation.