In media reportage and in everyday conversation, the use of the word lynching typically tends to conflate all kinds of violence. Such a conflation is often accompanied by two other commonly held views – the current government has intentionally created an environment where law and order have no sanctity and is replaced by vigilantism. The other is that somehow digital technology and its irresponsible spread has resulted in uncontrollable violence. It is obvious that these two commonly held views are contrary to each other. The former view assumes a strong Hindutva movement that has immense control and power so as to design and execute seemingly arbitrary acts of violence across the country whereas the latter view absolves politics completely and deposits all the blame on platforms like WhatsApp or even the Internet.
Vigilantism cannot be curbed without addressing the vigilante culture that sustains it. Countering vigilante culture requires us to grasp how it is put in place over long periods by creation of signs that motivate communities of believers and vigilantes to act, and to produce an alternative repertoire of signs.
Recently, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recognised Hate Crimes as a Public Health issue… What we doctors in India, need to learn from them? While a Modi-fied government seems to be pushing India’s public health into private hands thanks to its belief in unleashing India’s economy in the same style as the US does for its medical services, isn’t it surprising that none of us can imagine our premier physicians’ organisation, the Indian Medical Association taking up such a cause even in the next few decades! In fact, if history teaches us lessons, what we learn is that a large chunk of its leadership which is right-wing, may actually aid and abet the hate!
In the past few months, the “Not In My Name” protests, PM Narendra Modi’s (hollow) call to stop lynching and several other appeals to morality have curbed neither the climate of hatred nor the trend of lynching.
Do we then need to make an economic argument against lynching?
On the evening of 7th July 2017, Yakub Khan Nongkynrih, an alleged sexual offender, was killed by a mob at Nongkseh, Shillong. He was accused of having sexually assaulted an eleven year old girl who is the daughter of his landlord.
Let us lynch, rape, kill them in peace;
build a temple of purebred-filth
on razed mosques and dargahs,
Surely, #NotinMyName as a name and event does in certain ways imply an assertion of one’s place in mainstream elitist spaces, this type of Naming is indeed veiled and nuanced but there is a problem to see this as entirely Brahminical and thus absolutely evil.
The Hindus on the Asoti railway platform managed to collectively not see a 15 year old Muslim boy being stabbed to death. Then they collectively, but without prior agreement, continued to not see what they had seen after the event. This is the uniquely terrifying aspect of this incident on which this report reflects: the totalising force of an unspoken, but collectively binding, agreement between Hindus to not see the dead body of a Muslim child.
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.