“Lynchings have pained me……the guilty should be punished severely,” thus spoke Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the death of a young man in Jharkhand after he was brutally attacked by a mob recently. The attackers left him only after forcing him to utter salutations like Jai Sri Ram and Jai Hanuman. Within a couple of days of this traumatic incident, there was another episode of pushing a Madrasa teacher out of a train in West Bengal after demanding that he chant Jai Sri Ram. These outrageous incidents took place within days of Prime Minister adding two words “sabka viswas” to his favorite slogan “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas.” Slogans without sincerity are like salt without saltiness.
Lynching due to mobocracy has become routine after the Modi government assumed power in 2014. According to reports, since 2014 close to 100 incidents of lynching have taken place in the country. The unending saga of these shocking incidents started with the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh on suspicion of keeping beef in his fridge. Since then, the murderous attacks spread like an epidemic to Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and West Bengal, to name a few States. Giving a boost to the culprits, only a few accused have been convicted till date. Victims of lynching have not got justice despite the tall promises and shedding of crocodile tears by the ruling party. Instead, there were instances in which BJP leaders, including a Union Minister, have gone an extra mile to honour some of the convicts in lynching cases.
Outraged by the non-stop incidents of this heinous crime, then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra ruled that the Parliament must create a separate section of offence for lynching and provide adequate punishment for the same. A group of ministers was also set up to do the follow up work in this regard. Shaken out of its slumber after the Supreme Court’s harsh observations, the Centre had asked all States to appoint a Superintendent of Police-level officer in each district and set up special task forces to deal with the crime. But the government has apparently not made any visible progress in the matter.
Lynching during the NDA1 was mostly on account of alleged cow slaughter and beef eating. In NDA 2, another ‘crime’ has been added to the list: Refusal to chant Jai Sri Ram and Jai Hanuman salutations. It will not be surprising if one is lynched for not wearing a particular dress or speaking a particular language in the days ahead. The culprits are getting emboldened as they see the environment more conducive to have their way with impunity. With the government having two most powerful men at the top – Mr. Modi and Mr Amit Shah – it is time to show their strength and power, and prove the genuineness of their pain, by coming down heavily on the lynching mob. The existing laws are sufficient to put an end to the menace provided there is a political will. But the bigger question is: When lynching mobs get political patronage profusely, who will dare to bell the cat?(Published on 08th July 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 28)