By LRS Correspondent, 11 August, 2018
A series of incidents, which fall in the category of “lynching”, have made ordinary Indians very concerned about the state of law and order in the country. Lynching refers to open extra-judicial killing by a mob. The victims are targeted because of their identity as belonging to some particular group. The persons who have been victimised in India recently are Muslims, Dalits, people belonging to the North-eastern states and people from Africa.
Various excuses are advanced on behalf of the perpetrators of such crimes, often by leaders of established political parties, alleging beef consumption, cow smuggling, child trafficking, drug trading, inter-religious or inter-caste love affairs, and so on against the lynched. The incidents are given much publicity and acrimonious debates take place in the news media. Yet, in most cases, the police do not register a case, expressing their inability to identify the perpetrators in the crowd. What is most disturbing is the fact that those who are responsible for protecting innocent lives refuse to act speedily to perform their duty.
It is commonly accepted in this day and age that if a human life is taken, law enforcement agencies of the State and the judiciary should immediately take the necessary action to identify and punish the guilty. In incidents of lynching, however, in almost all cases, law enforcement agencies remained passive spectators to the crime. Even if one assumes that a victim had broken some law, beating him to death is absolutely unacceptable and condemnable. Moreover, it is not believable that the State agencies did not know what was going on or that they could not have prevented the crime. Imagine what would have happened if a judge or some other VIP was attacked by a mob; will the police dare give an excuse that it could not nab the perpetrators because they were in a crowd?
What is amply clear is that such incidents have the blessings of powers that be. That is why ministers and members of Parliament can make such condemnable statements justifying and trivialising the attacks. That is why various self-appointed “gaurakshaks” and “anti-love jihadis” are emboldened to act with impunity. As in the case of communal violence, it is the State which is behind the violence and shields the perpetrators. It is part of the terror created by the State. Its purpose is to suppress whole communities and people who dare to disagree with the government or dare to fight for their right.
Historically, the origin of lynching is in the United States of America. After blacks were formerly freed from slavery with the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865, lynching of blacks continued for decades. Blacks were regularly lynched and left hanging from trees for everyone to see. Even picture postcards showing lynched black people were printed and sent by post to widely spread fear amongst the black population. The aim was to terrorise the black people and prevent them from claiming their rights which were formally proclaimed in the Constitution. The US State obviously treated the perpetrators of these crimes with kid gloves.
The Indian State has inherited such terroristic methods from the colonial British State. It is well known that the British colonial rulers used to organise covert operations to incite violence between Hindu and Muslim communities. They used to have their agents dump butchered cows in Hindu temples and butchered pigs in Mosques. Then they used to organise attacks against these two communities while simultaneously propagating the lie that Hindus and Muslims were at each others throats! Of course, they kept the role of their agents hidden so that people did not unite together and organise to overthrow their oppressive rule. Our patriots of the Great Ghadar of 1857, of the Hindostan Ghadar Party, the Hindostan Republican Association and others saw through the devilish deeds of the colonial rulers and struggled to unite people across religions to oust the British rulers.
State organised communal violence has continued to be used by the rulers in post-independent India. Large scale massacres of people of one faith or another are periodically organised. In 1984 thousands of innocent Sikhs were massacred in Delhi allegedly for assassinating Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. This massacre was organised by the ruling Congress Party, whose leaders distributed electoral rolls with names of Sikhs highlighted and supplied various of their local leaders with kerosene, etc. More than a thousand lynchings took place each day for three days. Police and the State agencies watched and allowed the massacre to go on. Subsequently, the institutions of the State protected several of its functionaries and those who had organised the whole massacre. Even after three long decades, all the major guilty persons have escaped punishment.
At other times Muslims, Hindus and Christians have been targeted and massacred. Large scale lynchings as in 1984, 1992-93, 2002 expose the role of the State. It is unacceptable that thousands of people could be killed in mob violence while the State agencies, which are supposed to protect innocent people and their property from harm, remained mere spectators.
Lok Raj Sangathan along with other organisations and concerned people has been demanding that those guilty of organsing killings must be brought to book and those with command responsibility to protect the people must be made to answer for abdicating their responsibility. Only when those guilty of organising each and every lynching and those in positions of command responsibility are given exemplary punishments consistent with their crimes, can India be free of this medieval shame.