Tasneem Kabir Lynching
This year has recorded yet another historic judgement by the Chief Justice of India that directs every state to stop lynching in all proportions. Lynching, or killing (someone) for an alleged offence without a legal trial, especially by hanging, has been a common practice in our society for the longest time.
In tune with most lynching cases across the nation, this particular judgement was also passed in response to contempt petitions filed against violence by cow vigilantes.
Cattle slaughter is banned in most states of India and recently emerged cow vigilante groups, claiming to be protecting cattle, have accused some Indian Muslims and Dalits of cattle theft or slaughter, and targeted violence against them, leading to a number of deaths and a lingering sense of insecurity within the masses.
Having said that, lynching is not only confined to violence by cow vigilantes. In fact, there seems to be a graver underlying motive behind such cases. Under Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, an Indian citizen is protected from “discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth” and yet, one can’t help but ponder over how cases of lynching in India seem to follow an ominous pattern: minorities persecuted at the hands of the majority.
Take for instance the statement of a tribesman from Jharkhand, Khaliq Chaudhary who has been a victim of a discriminatory case of lynching in his hometown, “Simply by the virtue of being Muslims, we provoke our neighbours and friends to attack, humiliate and force us out of our birth place.
Their motive seems to be to strike fear in our hearts. So, we run away, leaving behind our cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep.”
Inherent in this raw statement is the immense length to which people are willing to go in a bid to deprive an individual of even the remotest sense of security that the aforementioned article handpicked from the Constitution GUARANTEES.
According to a report, 22 people have been lynched to death since May 2018 as rumours of kidnapping of children spread on social media. The latest episode was reported from Dhule in Maharashtra on July 1 when five men were lynched to death.
While the Supreme Court said lynching is a crime no matter what the motive, the looming question remains that have people lost faith in the legal system to such an extent that mobs find it more pragmatic to take matters into their own hands? And because a mob dispenses what it thinks is justice by itself, it often chooses its victim and the mode of justice. Consequently, the targets are often the most vulnerable members of society.
Amidst such ongoing chaos, the introduction of an Anti-Lynching Law is a step as welcome as a downpour following a scorching July sun. Even so, there remain critics and opponents to this law, claiming that there are ample provisions in The Indian Penal Code along ‘similar’ lines such as Sections 302 (murder), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 307 (attempt to murder), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) — to tackle such incidents.
What these critics choose to overlook is the fact that our democracy, with its ongoing bloom, is at a crossroads where ‘similar’ just won’t do.
We ought to and we are dealing with the situation in its entirety and nomenclature by not only proposing a law, but also calling it an Anti-Lynching Law.
Tasneem Kabir is a feature editor of The Legitimate.