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Mainstream, VOL LV No 32 New Delhi July 29, 2017

Strong Action to Stop Mob Lynchings Should Get Top Priority

Saturday 29 July 2017, by Bharat Dogra


At the time of writing this the Union Government appears to be waking up rather belatedly towards its responsibility for checking mob lynchings and related violence which, instead of being checked, have been worsening rapidly in recent months. According to statistics on such lynchings compiled by the India Today magazine, in the three years starting from June 2014, at least 50 cases of mob lynchings have been reported in 11 States. The words ‘at least’ are important here, as this compilation is based on reported cases and several smaller cases remain unreported particularly in the more remote areas. The actual number is likely to be higher.

The compilation by India Today also revealed that such incidents are rising at an alarming rate in more recent times. Between April and June 2017 there have been at least four lynchings a month. Further analysis of this data from 50 such incidents revealed that most victims were Muslims or Dalits. The accused in almost all cases were linked to gaurakshaks or cow vigilante groups.

This is an extremely tragic situation and its distressing impact in terms of creating a strong sense of insecurity and even panic among the affected sections is much higher. This could go on for such a long time largely because of lack of strong action on the part of the concerned authorities and the denial of the much-needed priority to check this mob violence directed at certain sections. The overall attitude has been that this is not a very serious issue and even senior persons who ought to have known better have spoken along these lines. There have been cases of the accused being shielded.

Clearly all this must change and the situation should be closely monitored regarding to what extent effective action is being taken in such cases and this information must be shared with the people. All mob lynchings and mob violence must be reported by the local police and administration so that more comprehensive data can be collected and monitored carefully.

The BJP has tried to distance itself from such attacks but a question that needs to be faced squarely is: why have these attacks increased in the last three years and more particularly in the period April to July this year? If all the accused are asked a simple question—whom did you vote for in the last election—then the results of even such a simple survey may be quite revealing.

However, even if mistakes are corrected belatedly it is much better than not correcting mistakes and in this context the efforts of the government to check any possibility of mass lynchings will be keenly watched in the near future.

The author is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.

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