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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 32 New Delhi July 28, 2018

Alwar Lynching, Maratha Stir, Imran Khan

Sunday 29 July 2018

EDITORIAL

As was mentioned in these columns last week, the Supreme Court of India’s unequivocal condemnation (on July 17) of what it described as “horrendous acts of mobocracy” was followed the very next day (that is, on July 18) with a direct mob attack on the noted human rights activist, 80-year-old Swami Agnivesh, in Jharkhand “for taking part in an event at the behest of Christian missionaries to mislead tribals”. And within two days of that incident on the night of Friday, July 20, Rakbar alias Akbar Khan, who was transporting cows on foot with an associate, was allegedly stopped by villagers in Lalawandi under the jurisdiction of Ramgarh Police in Rajasthan’s Alwar district and mercilessly lynched. He was still alive even after the lynching but by the time the police took him to the health centre, barely four kilometres from the spot where the lynching took place, he had passed away and was declared dead on arrival at the centre. Why? Because the police had tea on the way, got the injured washed and his clothes changed at the Ramgarh Police Station. The police were definitely guilty of gross dereliction of duty. Incidentally those who took law into their hands to lynch the “guilty person” were close to the local BJP MLA.

This was the third such incident at Alwar. And now there is practically no doubt about the identity of the lynch-mob. As The Times of India editorially asserted, the project to blame the lynch victims and rationalise vigilantism was proceeding in right earnest

A Union Minister’s claim that lynchings were a bid to arrest PM Modi’s popularity was followed by a senior RSS leader who believes lynchings will end if people stop eating beef. Even BJP ally and fellow Hindutva traveller Uddhav Thackeray has questioned the BJP’s obsession with gau raksha at the expense of law and order. Government’s failure to end impunity for gau rakshaks must prompt the Supreme Court to view the Alwar incident as contempt of court. The SC had laid emphasis on districts with a history of lynchings. It is indeed a sad irony of “new India” that the SC’s red flags about the susceptibility of districts like Alwar went unheeded.

Meanwhile the issue of reservation for the Marathas has once again been brought to the fore following an agitation leading to a bandh called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha. However, as The Indian Express aptly points out, this is “not just about reservations. It is a reminder of rural distress and unaddressed grievances.” These cannot be ignored in any way.

At the same time the news of three girls ‘starved to death’ in East Delhi’s Mandawali has shocked the conscience of people in the Capital. This only highlights the magnitude of poverty even in this city.

In our neighbouring state of Pakistan a major political change is being brought about with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan going ahead in the Pakistan polls; he is expected to win the parliament elections there ostensibly with the backing of the military. Imran himself has mounted quite a sharp attack on PM Modi and there is every likelihood of his taking a hard line vis-a-vis India. However, what concrete steps he would take within his country and in relations with India only time will reveal.

July 26 S.C.

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