Today, India is one the developing economies of the world. We are aiming to become a $5 trillion economy in the coming years. There’s been great development and progress in a variety of fields right from agriculture to the I.T Sector. We also brag to be a democratic country upholding the principles of secularism and justice as enshrined in our constitution. But we fail to recognise a serious concern which is gradually on the rise- Mob Lynching.
There has been a great upscale in the number of cases relating to hate crimes, lynching and basically communal violence on the whole. We reiterate in our Preamble that all Indians are our brothers and sisters, but do we really mean it? We are divided in the name of religion and we have forgotten what it is to live in harmony with people from different sects and castes having different beliefs, ideologies and ways of life. Can we really call ourselves to be progressing when something like lynching is on the rise in the 21st Century?
Mob lynching, which amounts to hate crime comprises of attacks by violent groups of people against a person or a group of persons, in the name of religion or cow vigilantism. ‘Cow protection’ has been the justification of individuals and groups of people taking part in this act. According to a Reuters report, a total of 63 cow vigilante attacks had occurred in India between 2010 and mid- 2017. In these attacks between 2010 and June 2017, "28 Indians – 24 of them Muslims – were killed and 124 injured", states the Reuter's report.(1) Shockingly, the cases since 2015 alone have crossed the 100 mark.(2) This clearly indicates the growing communal disharmony prevailing in a secular country like ours. Cow slaughter has been banned in many states in India. Thus, the vigilantes justify their acts by stating their intention to prevent the illegal smuggling of cows. But does illegal smuggling of cows give the liberty to commoners to take the law in their own hands?
The issue at hand is that people feel empowered to do whatever they please in the name of religion as the cow is considered to be sacred and is highly respected by people following Hinduism. There are vigilante groups spread across the country whose members include the youth of our country. These youth are emotionally motivated to commit these wrongs. They are brainwashed by showing them graphic content of animals being tortured.(3) The truth is, enough is not being done in order to deter these groups. A number of lynching cases go unnoticed. Many of the cases in rural areas are not reported or are suppressed due to police or political pressure. Moreover, justice is not done to the victims in most of these cases, in spite of being subjected to vicious attacks. One of the more talked about cases was the Dadri Lynching Case in 2015. A 52-year-old man was brutally murdered and his son was grievously injured by cow vigilantes on suspicion of him slaughtering a cow in the state of UP.(4) Police acted and made arrests but shockingly, the arrests led to protests by locals. The situation turned so grave that paramilitary and other forces had to be deployed in the village.(5) The support by the locals endorsing and glorifying this barbaric act highlights the disharmony and animosity among people existing today.
Apart from lynching in the name of cow protection, hate crimes have increased manifold due to communal disharmony among our fellow Indians. The attempts by people to force their beliefs on other communities has increased friction between individuals. People feel divided in the name of religion, making the feeling of brotherhood among all Indians a distant dream. The very principles of our Constitution seem to be losing their purpose.
So, who do we blame for this current situation? The Government or the People? The fact is there is no comprehensive piece of legislation punishing these harrowing acts of mob lynching. The people do not fear the law and hence there is no impediment to prevent the commission of these acts. In spite of the Supreme Court recommending the Parliament to bring about an anti-mob lynching law, the Parliament is yet to act accordingly. Thankfully, only the Rajasthan and West Bengal Governments have taken some positive steps in this regard by bringing in a law criminalizing Mob Lynching.(6)(7)
At an individual level, the best we can do is promote peace and harmony by respecting the sentiments and beliefs of our fellow Indians. In a country of 1.3 billion people, where people from varying regions having different cultures and languages cohabitate together, mob lynching is a threat to our ‘unity in diversity’. It is saddening that we aren’t heading onto the path that our freedom fighters paved for us.
We really need to LIVE and LET LIVE.
Tommy Wilkes, Rolly Srivastava, Protests held across India after attacks against Muslims, REUTERS (June 28, 2017, 10:25 PM), https://in.reuters.com/article/india-protests/protests-held-across-india-after-attacks-against- muslims-idINKBN19J2C3.
Hunted, India’s Lynch Files, THE QUINT, https://www.thequint.com/quintlab/lynching-in-india/.
Michael Safi, On patrol with the Hindu vigilantes who would kill to protect India's cows, THE GUARDIAN (Oct 27, 2016, 6:51 BST), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/27/on-patrol-hindu-vigilantes- smuggling-protect-india-cows-kill.
Saif Khalid, Indian mob kills man over beef eating rumour, AL JAZEERA (Oct 1, 2015), https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/indian-mob-kills-man-cow-slaughter-rumour-150930193719666.html.
Aditi Vatsa, UP Police, RAF, paramilitary patrol tense Dadri village, THE INDIAN EXPRESS (Oct 1, 2015, 1:56: AM), https://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/up-police-raf-paramilitary-patrol-tense-dadri- village/.
Press Trust of India, Rajasthan assembly passes anti-mob lynching bill, INDIA TODAY (Aug 6, 2019, 12:06 AM), https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rajasthan-assembly-anti-mob-lynching-bill-1577505-2019-08-06.
Press Trust of India, West Bengal assembly passes bill against lynching, INDIA TODAY (Aug 30, 2019, 5:30 PM), https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/west-bengal-assembly-passes-bill-lynching-mamata-banerjee- 1593565-2019-08-30.
Year II, B.L.S./LL.B.,
Government Law College, Mumbai.
(Image used for representational purpose only. Image Courtesy: https://www.newsclick.in/nine-mob-lynching-cases-across-8-states-despite-sc-warning )