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India: Killings by Hindu vigilantes continue unabated

22nd Jul 2018
India: Killings by Hindu vigilantes continue unabated

By Sajeda Haider

(The Muslim News): India is fast becoming the lynching capital of the world. In the last few weeks more than two dozen murders by violent mobs have been reported from different states of the country. The victims are mostly Muslim men who are either accused of smuggling or killing cows, but even a woman has fallen prey to the epidemic of vigilante violence that is sweeping the nation.
Until a few weeks ago 83% of the lynching victims were Muslims who were accused of some cow related crime – generally without proof.

But in the last few weeks a new excuse has been found for people to be aroused into committing murder – rumours of child-kidnapping. The victims in these crimes can be anyone, not necessarily just Muslims. They may be an outsider in that they are not from the locality, come in search for work, taking the wrong road and asking for directions or even just offering a child a chocolate to set off viral rumours that child-lifters are on the prowl.

These messages spread like wildfire through social media and frenzied mobs gather ready to bloody their hands, blinded by fake news they see on their phones. The outsider doesn’t stand a chance as he/she pleads innocence, as none is ready to listen before they attack like feral animals. In a few short minutes the victims are left battered, bruised and often dead. Those not participating in the murders take videos on their mobile phones to be uploaded and spread with pride.

The police invariably arrive on the scene much after the crime has been committed and the perpetrators long gone. In a few instances when the police managed to get there while the murders were taking place, they were heavily outnumbered by the ‘anonymous’ mob that they were unable to stop.

In any other civilized country such a spate of lynchings would have seen governments enforce the rule of law to nip the menace in the bud. The Indian Government, led by the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP), is yet to react. Instead of unequivocally condemning the lynchings, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has passed them off as ‘unfortunate incidents’, and does not seem at all perturbed that mob violence is becoming the normal state of law and order in the country.

Taking a cue from him, the ministers in his Government have publicly come out in support of the cow-vigilantes accused of killing Muslims. A Harvard educated minister in the Modi Government, Jayant Sinha, has gone to the extent of welcoming lynching convicts to his home with sweets and garlands of fresh flowers. The convicts had been found guilty of killing Alimuddin Ansari for allegedly possessing beef by a trial court, but were out on bail pending an appeal. Other BJP MPs and leaders have protected the accused and are even paying for their legal costs.

The reasons for supporting the accused are simple – they are mostly always BJP workers, supporters or voters – who are emboldened by the fact that long arm of the law will not touch them as they have political patronage. For them killing Muslims is not a crime but a badge of honour they can show off among their ilk.

Even as the Prime Minister’s silence is deafening, Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi, has shown deep concern for what the lynchings are doing to the country. “The politics of hatred and communal (religious) polarization is irreparably damaging our social fabric. The brutal lynchings across India that have sickened our nation, are the direct consequence of that kind of politics,” tweeted Gandhi. Many suggest that silence of the BJP leadership proves their complicity in the crimes.

The Supreme Court of India, the highest court in the land, has called lynching “an affront to the rule of law” and reminded the Government that it is its “sacrosanct duty to protect its citizens from unruly elements and perpetrators of orchestrated lynching and vigilantism”. The Supreme Court castigated the Modi Government saying the “rising intolerance and growing polarization, expressed through the spate of incidents of mob violence cannot be permitted to become the normal way of life” and it is the state’s “principal obligation to see that vigilantism, be it cow-vigilantism or any other vigilantism of any perception, does not take place”.

So far there is still no response from Prime Minister Modi or his Government! And the lynchings continue unabated.

[Archive Photo: Rally against killings of Muslims for alleged cow killing at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 30 June 2017. Photographer: Javed Sultan/AA]

July 22, 2018

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