By Prof. Shamsul Islam
India has turned into the lynching capital of the world. Our country has been tagged with this infamous identity with Modi becoming PM of India in 2014. Modi rule herald the beginning of nation-wide spree of lynching of Dalits and minorities. Unfortunately, there is no government data collection on hate-crimes but few media outlets have been collecting the lynch data. In his first term of 5 years (2014-19) hate crime against minorities and Dalits increased by 90% of religious hate crimes which occurred in the in the last decade. Soon after Modi was re-elected as the Prime Minister of India on May 23, 2019, he gave a conciliatory speech trying to reassure Muslims, the main target of attacks, but crimes of lynching have increased manifold. According to NDTV these have increased by 1000%.
The Hindutva apologists argue that lynching is not new to India. They are right. There is a long list of lynching/massacre of Dalits and minorities. There were following major incidents of massacre of Dalits; 1968 Kilvenmani massacre, Tamil Nadu, 1985 Karamchedu massacre, 1991 Tsundur massacre, Andhra Pradesh, 1996 Bathani Tola Massacre, Bihar, 1997 Laxmanpur Bathe massacre, Bihar, 1997 Melavalavu massacre, Tamil Nadu, 1997 Ramabai killings, Mumbai, 1999 Bant Singh killing, Punjab, 2000 Caste persecution in Karnataka, 2006 Khairlanji massacre, Maharashtra, 2011 killings of Dalits in Mirchpur, Haryana, 2012 Dharmapuri anti-Dalit violence, 2013 Marakkanam anti-Dalit violence, Tamil Nadu, 2014 Javkheda Hatyakand, Maharashtra, 2015 anti-Dalit violence in Dangawas, Rajasthan.
Three major minority communities of India have been victims of number of massacre like Nellie massacre (1983), Sikh genocide (1984), post mosque demolition violence in Ayodhya & different parts of India, Bombay violence (1992-93), Gujarat violence against Christians in Gujarat (1997), burning of Graham Stuart Staines along with his two sons Philip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 6) at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district in Odisha, India on 23 January 1999), Gujarat carnage (2002), Kandhmal violence/rapes against Christians (2008).
But these were declared and treated as serious crimes, perpetrators booked, though, none, finally, has been punished so far. The current spate of lynching which began with Modi’s coming to power witnessed a heinous reality. The RSS/BJP rulers honoured these criminals with tickets for Parliament/state assemblies, public receptions and obliged with visits by RSS/BJP leaders in jails.
It was natural that Supremo of RSS would come forward to dilute the issue which he attempted in his recent annual address at RSS headquarters on Dussehra (October 8, 2019). Trying his best to divert the issue he declared,
“Nowadays, there have been reports that members of a community in our society have been attacked by another community, making them victims of social violence. Such incidents have not been one-sided. There are reports of incidents happening from both sides and allegations and counter-allegations. It has also come to light that some incidents have been deliberately fabricated while some others have been published in a distorted manner.”
It may be noted that few years back when there was a spurt of rape cases in India same Bhagwat had declared rapes as foreign!
He resorted to brazen lie that lynching attacks were “happening from both sides”. It were one sided; victims being Muslims, Christians and Dalits. Bhagwat conveniently forgot that in July last year; the Supreme Court had told the Union and state governments that ‘horrific acts of mobocracy’ could not be allowed to become the new normal, while underscoring the urgency to protect India’s ‘pluralist social fabric’ from bloodthirsty mobs. But the law is yet to be conceptualized and passed. There has been no ambiguity about the source of this heinous agenda of lynching and its executioners. Those lynched anywhere in the country were first robbed and then forced to chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Sri Ram’ If these were sheer coincidences then these would be fit cases for entry into Guinness Book of World Records!
As if suffering from severe bout of amnesia he declared that
“Lynching is not the word from Indian ethos, its origin is from a story in a separate religious text. We Indians trust in brotherhood. Don’t impose such terms on Indians….Lynching itself is a western construct and one shouldn’t use it in the Indian context to defame the country.”
By ‘western construct’ he meant Christianity. As a master mischief monger of the Hindutva camp he declared:
“In this context, there is an old story in a religious text prepared outside. There is no connection of that religion with this but there is an incident in which a village was preparing to stone a woman. Jesus Christ reached there and said, ‘you are stoning her because she is a sinner. Then make sure that the first stone is thrown by the person who has not sinned’. Then everyone realised their mistake.”
Thus a noble act of Jesus is portrayed to prove that lynching started with the Christianity. And what did Hindutva zealots do? They borrowed it from Christianity!
The National Council of Churches in India rightly urged upon
“the highest Government officials and political leaders of National and State Governments as well as leaders of all political parties to condemn such heinous acts and irresponsible public statements so that peace and communal harmony can be maintained in this country.”
It may be noted here that after the times of US Civil War when Blacks, Chinese and Hispanics were lynched in large numbers, it is India under Modi which is witnessing maximum number of lynching. In fact, Manusmriti¸ the most worship-able script of Brahmanism after Vedas which RSS/BJP leaders demand as the constitution of India which appeared around 2nd century BCE was the most original document in the world history decreeing lynching.
A glance over few punishments ordained for Sudras would make it clear. According to Manu,
“1. Once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin.
- If he mentions the names and castes (jati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth.
- If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears.
- With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to (a man of the three) highest (castes), even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu.
- He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off.
- A low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed.
In fact, with Manusmriti around the Hindutva zealots do not need any foreign guiding source to lynch Dalits and Muslims in India!
He dismissed the incidents of lynching as a conspiracy hatched by
“The so-called leaders—who in the name of advocating the interests of a specific community create clash in between the two communities of our society and have made an industry out of their pursuits for self-aggrandizement—should not be patronized. Adequate laws exist in the country to curb such incidents. They must be honestly and strictly implemented.”
When minorities and Dalits are being lynched all around and Hindutva cadres appear to be the perpetrators the following advice of Bhagat to RSS cadres was only laughable.
“Neither this tendency is the tradition of our country nor does it fit in the spirit of the Constitution. Howsoever deep the difference of opinion be, howsoever provocative actions might have taken place, still, we should act by remaining within the limits of Constitution, handing over such cases to the police and reposing faith in the judicial system of the country. This is the duty of the citizens of a free nation.”
How much RSS cares for the Indian Constitution would be clear from its constant demand that this democratic-secular Constitution should be replaced by Manusmriti.
Responding to this canard a leading English daily of India wrote in an editorial that
“Call it ‘lynching’ or ‘mob murders’ the crime is no less deadly: lives are being brutally snuffed out and the rule of law derailed. Even the argument that lynching denotes ‘traditions alien to Bharat and belong elsewhere’ doesn’t pass muster: no civilized society condones mobs meting out instant punishment. By asking critics to talk less about human rights and warning that they erode communal relations, Bhagwat is essentially restating the ‘Asian values’ thesis that Asia leans towards collectivism, authoritarianism and social harmony over human rights.”
The Hindutva ideologue may be allergic to the word lynch for being foreign but must be familiar with the Brahmanical term ‘vadh’ which they use to describe the killings of the adversaries. They described murder of Father of the Nation as ‘Gandhi-vadh’; killing as offering to goods/goddesses. The Hindutva motto seems to be; down with lynching, long live the vadh!
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates: