Thu. Aug 22nd, 2019

“Mob lynchings’, dark spots on democracy”

Mudasir Wani

Communal violence, long an issue in India, has remained at consistently high levels in the past five years. The recent mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand was the 14th lynching in the state and the 266th in the country in the past four years. Tabrez Ansari, a migrant worker in Pune from Jharkhand who had come home on a vacation, was accused of being a “bike thief”, arraigned by a bunch of thugs, tied to a lamppost, and brutally beaten up while being made to chant Jai Shri Ram and Jai Hanuman. He succumbed to his injuries by the time he was taken to a hospital. He was just 24, had gotten married a little over a month ago, and he had only come home to take his wife back to Pune with him. We have greeted this piece of news with sadness, rage, shock, even indifference at the increasing banality of Hindutva violence. But we wouldn’t know if this horror would pass. A Muslim cab driver in the national capital was allegedly forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. In Mumbai, a similar incident took place, where Faisal Usman an Uber driver was thrashed and allegedly forced to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. Incidentally, a day after Tabrez’s death from merciless beating, Kolkata too witnessed a hate crime, where Sharukh Haldar, a madarsa teacher along with two other Muslim men, was assaulted and beaten in a local train in the heart of the city. In all the three cases, forcing victims to chant religious slogan “Jai Sri Ram” seems a common thread. This wasn’t the first video of Muslim killing shared by Indian Lynchers Anonymous; it was one of the more heart-rending ones. Tabrez was left to die after having sustained critical injuries. The lynching of Tabrez was not voiced strongly in the Indian Parliament; it has reached the international level in the UN meeting held in New York. While in India, the call for mass protest all over India was first called on 26th June and after that every day in some part of India and even in the United states of America and United Kingdom. The protests are still on demanding justice for Tabrez and enactment of a strong law to curb hate crimes against Muslims, punishment to the people involved in lynching and to the officials who have not acted promptly to prevent lynching.
In the last five years Muslims in India have seen a rise in hate crimes committed against their community. In the last five years, there have been lynching of Muslims and Dalits across India by fanatic Hindu mobs ostensibly for the protection of the holy cow. Since April 2017, at least 10 Muslims have been lynched in public in suspected hate crimes. The attacks have contributed to a growing sense of insecurity among Muslims and intensified religious tension.The recent trend is to make Muslims chant Jai Sri Ram. Before Couple of weeks ,24-year-old Tabrez Ansari was beaten for hours until he died in the hands of the Hindu mob in the eastern state of Jharkhand for not chanting Jai Sri Ram. Recently, a Muslim teacher has attacked in a train for being Muslim. He was heckled to say Jai Sri Ram, when he refused he was beaten and forced to get off the train. Member of Parliament, Pratap Sarangi, of the ruling party, in his first speech in the Parliament, asked why people who refuse to chant Hindu slogans should be allowed to live in India. These fanatic Hindu mobs have moved around with apparent impunity. The Indian state has remained mute to the cries of the minorities.” Religion in the present regime has become toxic and is used for majoritarian bullying of minorities and dalits. Religion of Hindutva is also used as a tool of targeted violence against minorities and dalits and their marginalisation as against the time-tested tenets of Hinduism that broadly unifies humans (people) amidst their diversity and pluralism and, in every aspect, is tolerant and accommodating. Most of the accused in the rising cases of mob violence have either been released on bail or never arrested at all. This is despite the Supreme Court’s severe injunction to the authorities to ensure justice. The questions which now arise are: Why are the laws of the land and legal system lynched every time? Isn’t there any fear of law? What makes a mob blood thirsty? What do the perpetrators think while committing such a heinous act?.No democracy in the world allows you to target minorities by forcing them to chant “jai Shree ram” or other religious slogans, rather this would only result in dividing communities, intolerance & communal disharmony.“Religious minorities are especially vulnerable to the threat of communal violence. Muslims, in particular, while making up less than 15 per cent of the population, have typically made up the large majority of victims”

(The author is socio-political activist, presently serving as vice-president Jammu and Kashmir Students Welfare Organisation. Views are his own)

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