Lynching: The rampaging monster

Ravi Shanker Kapoor |

The Supreme Court’s notices to the Central government, the National Human Rights Commission, and state governments over unabated mob lynchings highlight the magnitude and severity of the problem. And, with one such incident happening in the national Capital hinting, both the magnitude and severity seem to be growing.

In the case in Delhi, the victim was neither a Muslim nor was he involved in the killing or stealing of any cow. This is not to say that the murder of a Muslim over cow slaughter is justified; the point I am trying to drive at is that once started, an evil like lynching keeps finding new prey.

The victim was a 14-year-old boy, suspected of being a thief in the Adarsh Nagar area in north Delhi. Mercilessly beaten, he succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. Four persons, including a man in whose residence the boy had allegedly entered, have been arrested.

Do we see a trend here? It looks like one can thrash anybody one suspects of having done any wrong, from theft to child-lifting, without any consequences—that is, for the culprits. Are such things really happening? And happening in this day and age? In 2019? In the national Capital of the world’s largest democracy?

The answers to all these questions are, unfortunately, in the affirmative. Even more unfortunate is the fact that not just politicians bickering over the issue but even public figures and intellectuals can’t have a unanimous view over the subject.

Against this backdrop, if the apex court comes up with certain provisions, the government shouldn’t complain of judicial overreach. Even if there is any overreach, it would be justified, because the executive has failed miserably in checking the killing of innocent people.

The SC Bench under Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justice Deepak Gupta was responding to a public interest litigation filed by the Anti-Corruption Council of India, a non-governmental organization (NGO). It issued notices to the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kahsmir, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi, along with the Central government.

It may be recalled that on July 17, 2018, an apex court Bench had issued guidelines for preventive, remedial, and punitive measures to check lynching. The court had said that mob lynching and violence would “invite serious consequence under the law.”

The petitioning NGO cited eight incidents of violence against Muslims by cow vigilante groups that have taken place since the SC decision of July 17, 2018.

Lynching is a barbaric, medieval practice that has no place in a modern society. It is time the ruling dispensation woke up to the threat of lynching and took effective measures to stop them for once and all.

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