What an India it has become. Mob lynching is becoming a widespread norm. Public fury based on social media posts or fake news often lead to frenzied mob attack on unsuspecting people. Worst still, as was the case in Maharashtra’s Dhule, five people were under police protection, but a mob of over 5,000 people throng the police station and lynched the hapless victims.
Do we need more proof of mob justice overwhelmingly undermining the authority of the state and its legal apparatus?
Over 30 people have been lynched in this land of tolerance in a span of nearly 180 days in over 13 states across India. Does this not speak volumes about the magnitude of the prevailing mob psychosis?
Still, the police of various states have no idea how these messages are finding their way on mobile phones in the hinterland. No politician worth his salt has made an effort to highlight this issue, not even opposition leaders.
Social media which has seen vocal outrage on a plethora of issues is largely silent and the urbane Indian is hardly conscious of the implication of mob lynching.
A hypothetical scenario for the urbane, educated, erudite Indian--A group of improvised countrymen seeing a well-suited corporate honcho can’t digest his affluence. Day in and day out, they smart with jealousy at the young man extolling his affluence. And then one day, the improvised lot decides to simply rip the honcho off his affluence. They first loot him and then lynch him with the claim that he is a thief as he has stolen their share of national wealth, through his ill-begotten businesses.
Who will the police under our current system arrest?
This is a case of mob violence with mob justice being delivered at the will of the people. It’s an outage, which has resulted due to inequities in the society. Isn’t this what is happening in case of hapless people being killed in mass action in remote parts of India.
So, how different will the lynching of a young corporate honcho be from that of poor people dying at the hands of a mob which bases its judgement on the rumour mill gossip and believes that they are actually killing child thieves? No difference at all, except that the corporate honcho would be then become the poster boy of an urban dream gone sour.
The so-called middle class will then march in the capital, Delhi, or Mumbai with candles in hand and moan the death of the Great Indian Dream gone awry. And then the entire political class will wake up to the immense tragedy that has befallen India and convene a joint session of Parliament to pass a stringent law against mob violence. A piece of paper which will have no practical manifestation or effective will of implementation, just like the Rape law re-enacted after the Nirbhaya rape case.
Grim as this piece may sound, we are living in dangerous times, playing with fire, as the entire political class is so obsessively focused in its pursuit of political power, that it has forgotten its basic – governance and law and order.
What has happened in the 13 states across India in the name of mob lynching is the tip of an iceberg. The mob frenzy is an excuse. In reality, a small but discreet section of Indian populace is testing waters with mob psychosis. Once perfected, this instrument of exploiting mass anger will be used to target people at large and without any legal consequences.
It’s a vicious game of manipulating mass disaffection in pursuit of selfish goals. Just like communal riots, this form of mass disaffection would become the cornerstone of economic violence in days to come. And if we as a nation and polity are unable to check this criminal intent today, rest assured, we will have to pay a huge price in not too distant future.
(The writer is Managing Editor, News Nation)