Lynchings reveal frustration in polity, anemic criminal justice system, corrupt, ineffective police force

By Sheshu Babu*
Though there is less than a year for another general elections, lynchings continue in India unabated. Dalits and Muslims are being thrashed, harassed, beaten to death and, shamelessly, most of these incidents are being uploaded and circulated on WhatsApp with impunity. There is a need to discuss the continued horrors and the stony silence of the ruling party, BJP, and its organizations.
The term 'lynching' supposedly originated during the American revolution with Colonel Charles Lynch (1736-1796), a Virginia planter, politician, and American revolutionary, who headed an irregular court in Virginia to punish Loyalist supporters of the British during the American Revolutionary War. Lynch would order 'extra legal punishment' for British Loyalists, hanging without a trial. (M Lee Stone, September 30,2017, portside.org), and from that time, there is Lynch's law and lynching.

Effect of photos

The 'photos' of lynching reflect not only apathy of those photographing the incident but the 'sadistic celebration' of the viewers at the site of the incident, as well as those viewing on social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube.
As Efe Igor in an article analysing lynching in America states ("Modern cannibalism: Lynching Photography and Politics of Sight", January 4, 2015, www.conversationx.com), discussing black suffering, " ...Our viewing will make us voyeurs, fascinated as well as repulsed by black suffering, but ultimately blind to the system that made these images possible. The photographs of lynching divert our gaze from the problem, white supremacy and its legacy."
Similar is the case in India where Dalits, Muslims and women are lynched very frequently, as and when they try asserting upper caste Brahminical domination and supremacy.
Charles Lynch
Explaining lynchings in Guatemala, Matthew Klick ("Guatemala calling: Lynching and the Politics of Inequality", August 4, 2015, politicalviolenceataglance.org), says: "What lynchings more certainly reveal is the frustration among polity at large with an anemic criminal justice system infamous for impunity rates exceeding 90 percent, and on the street, with a police force hamstrung by corruption and ineffectiveness..."
He continues: "Lynchings are indeed an effort to reassert some agency, some autonomy, and some control over a life of uncertainty, and insecurity... Moreover lynchings force us to confront the dark side of citizen activism under conditions of state fragility."

People behind lynchings

Most lynchings have some sort of planning in advance. The mob gathering takes place with spread of rumours through social media or from person to person. The incidents are usually motivated by fanatic right wingers and their groups. Though upper caste forces instigate the lynchings, those involved may also belong to other castes. Commercial benefits and lucrative offers to vigilantes and lynching mobs also play crucial role in executing the incidents ("For Cow and Cash, June 23, 2017, frontline.in).

Silence is approval

While scores of people have been killed in the lynchings, the silence of ruling party, BJP, is telling. It raises doubts whether there is a tacit approval of the rulers. The last four years resemble the lawless state of south US of the late 19 century (Chandan Nandy, July 5, 2018, newsclick.in).
In "Political silence over lynching is Sanction by another mens", the author says, "In the least, the lynchings are both governmental depravity and a demoralised state of society which is being taken back to a time when India was synonymous with medieval barbarity".
The powers that be have eyes but see not: They have ears but hear not and have tongues but speak not. Their silence is sanction.

Awareness

These atrocities are being covered up carefully by the Hindutva fascists in the wake of ensuing elections. New programmes for the uplifting of Dalits, Muslims and other marginalised sections are being announced. Sops for farmers is an example of how the suicides of farmers have been sidelined for all these years, and to pacify them, the prices of crops (minimum support price) have been increased.
The participation in Kabir anniversary ("Why BJP sings Kabir", Badri Naryan, indianexpress.com) by the ruling party is indication of its efforts to garner votes for elections. People should be alert and aware to quickly recognize the machinations and evil designs and question the silence on these lynchings all these years. The double standards and hypocrisy should be exposed.
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*Writer from everywhere and anywhere, when he ponders on the question 'Who am I?' , receives some response in Bhupen Hazarika lyric 'Ami ek jajabor'. He has learned how to struggle from the courageous life of Gaddar, who, despite bullets in his body, sings for the people and about the people

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Hinuism and lynching are poles apart but, obviously, a big part of Hindutva beliefs of the ruling party. Take any member of the mob and you will find he is a coward; his courage is in numbers only. While the upper cast is not a part of the mob it instigates the mob to do its dirty work. Add to this the silence of the politicians and their support/praise of the perpetrators of such horrific crimes and you get a polluted social atmosphere we should be ashamed of