Life as we know it in 'Lynchistan'

Updated: Aug 04, 2018, 12:30 IST | Aultrin vijay | Mumbai

Cases of mob lynchings have piled up in the last couple of years, and incidents have continued unabated ever since

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

In most of the cases, the victims of lynching and hate crime belong to marginalised groups - Muslim, Adivasi, Dalit, Christian and others. Allegations of cow smuggling, beef eating and child-lifting make it more convenient to orchestrate lynching and mob violence. According to the data available, there has been an unprecedented surge in the number of lynchings and hate crimes. mid-day brings you various circumstances that lead to mob lynchings in India.

How technology is fuelling an already raging fire
1. Smartphones and social media
Social media platforms are the medium and vigilantism the message. Delivered by volatile crowds provoked to murderous rage, the all-too-frequent lynchings are being played in all their goriness within hours on smartphone screens across India. Affordable smartphones and the rapid spread of mobile internet have come together in recent months to lay bare the brutality of lynchings in chilling detail - savage mobs kicking and pummelling mercilessly, helpless victims cowering and begging for their lives, and then, their bloodied and broken bodies lying limp in the dirt.

2. In the name of the cow
In the name of protecting cows, the self-proclaimed "cow protectors" unleashed violence in several parts of the country. Though these were isolated incidents, the victims were mostly from minority and socially-disadvantaged communities. Muslims were reported to be the target of 52 per cent of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017), according to an IndiaSpend content analysis of the English print and digital media.

3. WhatsApp rumour-mongering
Rumours spread like wildfire on instant messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, about children being kidnapped from neighbouring villages and killed for organ harvesting, leading to mob violence and lynchings in many parts of the country. The origin of rumour was believed to be a video circulated on WhatsApp purportedly showing motorcycle-borne men abducting a child playing in an avenue. This has led to over 20 murders and a spate of mob violence in several parts of the country, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and the southern states.

Recent incidents
July 1: Five people were killed in Maharashtra's Dhule district by villagers who suspected them to be 'child lifters'.
July 20: Akbar Khan, who was transporting cows on foot with an associate, was allegedly stopped by villagers in Rajasthan's Alwar district and mercilessly lynched.

Senior officers of state police have said that mob lynching was the work of anti-social elements, done with an aim to disturb harmony. Superintendent of Police (Dhule) M Ramkumar said the suspects are identified and arrested based on videos of the incident and the accused are booked for rioting and murder.

What the SC says
The apex court said whether a lynching happens as a result of cow vigilantism or because people believe someone is a child abductor doesn't matter - lynching is a crime, period. It has also instructed Parliament to come up with a new law to deal with offences of mob-lynching.

Inputs/Rupsa chakraborty

Also Read: Mentally Challenged Person Lynched By Angry Villagers For Killing Three Persons In Jharkhand

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