A New Indian Normal Called Mob lynching

A mob is not autonomous: It executes the real will of the people who rule the state” James  Baldwin

A Muslim man identified as Lukeman was brutally thrashed with hammer on the suspicion of smuggling cow meat by an angry mob of cow vigilante’s on the eve of the Eid- al- adha on Friday (July 31) in Gurugram. This  incident comes as one of a series of attacks that has taken place across the country, targeting Muslim since the current ruling populist regime acquired the power with absolute Majority in 2014. Friction between Hindus and Muslims has been a persistent feature of Indian life. But in the last six years a hundreds of Muslims have been lynched, always with the pretext of defending “Hindu values”, which, in some interpretations, considers cow as sacred has revealed the emerging socio- political complexities and schisms in India.

Cow vigilantism has been the catalyst of much hate violence against Muslims. The spate of  Mob lynching are not the spontaneous expressions of mob anger but rahter a gradual product of systematic incitement to the violence by Right- wing fascist forces. Well narrated and Constructed historical myths has been used by the member of the far right Hindus organisation to project Muslims as outsider having a sinister plans to subjugates the Hindus of India. This Anti- Muslim propaganda has resulted into the dehumanisation and demonization of Muslims through continuous communal Program and lynching.

Mob violence is not a new to India. What is new is the frequent  Increase  and the gradual  normalisation of the lynching, in a growing aggressively majoritarian political and social ecosystem of hate and fear. The news of killings by lynch mobs no longer excites our social or political imagination. These cases  do not makes any headlines in the mainstream media and the outraged in popular public discourse anymore.Almost every other week there’s news that a mob has publicly flogged a Muslim man. In between the news of floggings there comes news of lynching’s. What have we seen in the past six years? It started with the killing of [IT professional] Mohsin Shaikh in Pune. Then Mohammad Akhlaq [in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh] was killed on suspicion of slaughtering his cow and consuming beef and now on July 31 an attempt to lynch the Lukeman.The lynching’s have become so common that we do not know which one to respond to.

What is even terrifying is the process of normalization of these horrific crime’s. When the perpetrator fearlessly post the videos on social media and make it viral without any fear. it is a clear indicator of the fact that the perpetrator  see this as an act of pride and bravery rather than a horrendous act of cowardice and guilt.

Muslim men are caught and then forced to chant Hindutva religious slogans. And even after they chant those slogans, there’s no guarantee that they will be left alive. One cannot simply isolate the case of lynching only  as a manifestation of estrangement relationship between Hindu and Muslims under the current regime rather it is a systematic and deliberate persecution of Muslims based on the feelings of hate. It has become a majority’s  way  of  telling  a  minority  population  that  the  law  cannot  protect them. It is a well planned attack on Muslims to psychologically demoralise, economically destroy, socially isolate and to make them politically vulnerable.

With BJP leaders and ministers supporting the accused of murder by lynching the police sends a signal to law enforcing agencies as to how seriously they must investigate and prosecute such crimes.The act of lynching is enjoying political patronage and impunity and the  convicted are Garlanded by the Ministers. The dead body of the accused in Dadri lynching were wrapped in the national flag by the MP of Ruling party. All these encouragement and lionisation of the killers by the current populist regime are annihilating the Minorities based on the idea of constructing the  community of  second class citizen; the Muslims and Dalit’s.

There is no official count of lynching’s in India -national and state crime records data do not  distinguish between general crime and cow related or lynching violence. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)which releases the data on crime incidents across the country , has not published the data under the new sub-heads of death due to mob lynching in 2019 despite collecting it.

But according to IndiaSpend, in a rapid survey of reported cow-related attacks since 2010 to 2017 has found that over half of those attacked and 86 per cent of those killed were Muslims. Dalit’s constituted 8 per cent. Many of the remaining 6 per cent were of unknown identity and could have been from these communities. 97 per cent of these attacks since 2010 were after BJP acquired power in 2014.

In another survey  conducted by Human Rights Watch (HRW), in February has observed that “nearly 44 people — 36 of them Muslims — were killed across 12 Indian states” in beef-related violence. In that period, “around 280 people were injured in over 100 different incidents across 20 states” in similar incidents. As for the victims, they are “largely Muslim or from Dalit (formerly known as “untouchables”) and Adivasi (indigenous) communities.”

Mob lynching seems to be continuation of pattern of low intensity communal violence. ‘It is the  manifestations of a Majoritarian display of boundless supremacy over a marginalized Muslim communities  with the help of governmental apathy and administrative indifference.’ It is an unspeakable fear. There is an absolute pattern of power relationship. It is a one sided conflict between violent mob and an individual, who is often defenceless and begging for life.

The striking thing about lynching now is that there is no incentive for the ruling party  to make it stop. The ruling party  has been unwilling to crack down on gau rakshak lynching’s, because a rabid section of its base is favourable to such action. The objectives of sustained communal polarization  can now be achieved though lynching which have always benefited the BJP. The exponential rise of Majoritarian Nationalism after Babri Masjid Demolition has slowly and gradually paved the way for the  Saffronization  of public spaces which resulted into the mobilising solidarity for groups targeting minority communities.

The systematic violence of mob lynching indicates how well Far Rightist forces has shaped India’s social ,cultural and political trajectory on its own terms. The socio-political design of populist forces has been so deeply embedded in masses that its execution is spontaneous, carried out by ordinary Individual anytime and anywhere. It is this larger created socio-political culture within which the barbaric act of lynching are made possible.

The otherizing of Muslims in India has been a long-term project. There may be differences in scale but the Otherisation is not an overnight phenomenon but a slow process adopted by the Congress and maximised by the BJP. It first distanced physically, then alienated mentally and is now demonising emotionally. Weak opposition, Bias police , xenophobic media and vulnerability of Muslims in electoral politics has enable the current regime in perpetuating the Supremacist agenda driven by the political conspiracy to bludgeon minorities into submissions

If lynching continues unabated, it would automatically reduce the Muslim community into second class citizens residing at the conditions and the norms  of the majority community, using Muslims merely as subject without any rights and dignity. With the passing of CAA it is evident that the sub-ordination of Muslim is not farfetching .Now it has become more important than ever to arrest the new normalization and brutality of lynching’s by compelling the state to act against the lynch mobs in accordance with law.


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Aamir Raza Written by:

Student at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi

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