Lynching cases in India: Politicians' inaction and silence has turned peaceful symbol like the cow into cause of illogical brutality

We use the word ‘lynching’ rather loosely to cover all mob violence where an individual is put to death through collective rage. But in reality, the term can be traced back to Charles Lynch (1736–96), a justice of the peace from Virginia, who presided over extra-legal trials of Tories during the American War of Independence and gave unusually harsh sentences.

During the slave era in America, lynching was made synonymous with evening 'entertainment' for white folks watching black people being killed by hanging. Violence, whether by hanging or by other means, is ghoulish and gross. But in India, we seem to have brought back an equivalent of that barbaric conduct.

It is truly inconceivable that the cow, a symbol of peace, is paradoxically becoming the symbol and cause of illogical brutality.

 Lynching cases in India: Politicians inaction and silence has turned peaceful symbol like the cow into cause of illogical brutality

A protest against mob violence. File image. PTI

In psychological terms, there is not much difference between the mobs in the 18th century US and the killers in Alwar, who believed themselves to be above the law and saw their victims as deserving of the arbitrary death sentences they handed out.

From times immmemorial, gaodhuli (the dust raised by a herd of cows coming home in the evening) has been a happy and benign rural imagery. Now, it is a matter of fear. Rakbar Khan, all of 28 years old, was killed for no reason.

The law has several provisions to deal with inciting hate between communities — such as Sections 153A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code. The purpose of Section 153A is to punish people who indulge in wanton vilification or attacks on people based on their religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. This provision makes the promotion of disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups, or castes or communities, a punishable offence. Section 295, too, has been enacted to compel people to respect the sentiments of people who follow diverse religions.

Now, let us look at the reactions of some people after the Alwar lynching. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said quite blithely that the Congress is making a mountain out of a molehill with reference to lynchings per se, as though such incidents are no big deal. He then goes on to equate the life of a cow with that of a human being. “Humans are important, so are cows” is the political message. The implication is that if cows are safe, then so are people. This smacks of tacit permission for mob rage.

There is no condemnation, no expression of grief or anger.

How are these politically eminent people not acting in contravention to the Indian Penal Code? Are they not spreading fear and doubt, and giving a licence to bloodthirsty mobs? One should see how diabolical this is. The cold-blooded murder of Rakbar Khan, absurdly, is made secondary to the clarion call of saving cows.

And that makes one wonder who really is exploiting the bovine species.

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2018 17:22:11 IST