According to Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, between 2014 and March, 2018, 45 people were killed in mob lynchings across nine states in India. In the latest example, a group of villagers beat to death 28-year-old Akbar Khan in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, an incident that came to light just five days after the Supreme Court urged the Center to frame a law to curb lynchings.
In response to Akbar Khan’s lynching by a mob, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted Sunday (July 22): “It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim.”
The First Post recently carried a three-part series “Anatomy of lynching” to highlight the reasons that fuel this mobocracy across the country. The First Post writer Saurabh Sharma says: They came for Mohammad Akhlaq in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri, then Zahid Rasool Bhatt in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Mazlum Ansari and Imteyaz Khan in Jharkhand’s Latehar district, the Dalits in Gujarat, Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan, Junaid Khan in Ballabhgarh, Qasim and Samiuddin in Hapur, and several others in between.
All in the name of the holy cow, this is a list of lynchings — not a new trend in India, but one that has seen a spike in the four years since the Narendra Modi government came to power, he said.
“Most of such hate crimes have been concentrated in states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and an accused has been convicted in only one case, so far. In several of these incidents, FIRs were lodged against the victims, many of whom were cattle traders or dairy farmers from the minority community, and the perpetrators let off. A central minister recently made news for getting photographs clicked with eight men, who were convicted for killing a Muslim meat trader in Jharkhand, and welcoming them at his house,” Sharma concluded.
Modi’s Minister garlands six accused of lynching
At a time when policymakers should be up in arms against those spreading fake news or participating in mob lynching incidents, some lawmakers are indulging in the opposite—going even to the extent of felicitating them. Recently, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha garlanded the six accused in the Alimuddin Ansari lynching case, causing quite a furore on social media. The minister ultimately had to offer a carefully-worded apology.
This is not the first incident when a member of the ruling party has promoted or supported those involved in such cases. Union minister Giriraj Singh came out in support of the VHP and Bajrang Dal activists arrested in connection with communal violence during last year’s Ramnavami. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many politicians have fallen prey to fake news circulating on social media and repeatedly endorse accounts spewing venom in the cyberspace, according to the First Post.
While responding to a question in Lok Sabha in March, the home ministry told Parliament that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not maintain data on the cases of "mob lynching" and policing is a state subject. However, it said that since 2014, 40 lynching-related cases were filed in the country and 45 people had died in such incidents. It also mentioned that 217 arrests were made in such cases so far. Most of the cases were reported from Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted Sunday (July 22): “It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim.” His comments came in response to the latest Alwar case where a Muslim youth, Akbar Khan, was lynched by a mob.
Writing in The Print under the same title, Indian parliament member, Shashi Tharoor, said: Since the ascent of the BJP to power, the forces unleashed by the dominance of Hindutva have resulted in many incidents of violence.
In one grim reckoning, more than 389 individuals have been killed in anti-minority acts of violence since mid-2014, and hundreds of others injured, stripped, beaten and humiliated.
Particularly haunting is the story of 15-year-old Junaid Khan, returning home on a crowded train after buying new clothes for Eid, who was stabbed repeatedly because he was a Muslim and thrown off the train to bleed to death on the tracks.
Seventy cases of cow-related violence have been reported in the last eight years, of which 97 per cent (68 out of 70) have occurred during the four years of BJP rule and a majority of these have occurred in BJP-ruled states.
Lynch Mobs Now a Full Fledged Extortion Industry
The lynch mobs accorded impunity by the Rajasthan State government are now running an extortion racket, killing those who are unable to pay, according to The Citizen.
On Friday (July 20) night Akbar Khan, accompanied by another villager Aslam Khan, was brutally beaten to death by a mob for doing little more than purchasing two cows and two calves from a cattle market. He was taking them home to Haryana through the forests when he was set upon by the mob that appeared to be lying in wait.
Akbar Khan was brutally killed when he was unable to pay the money demanded by the mob that waylaid him in the forests, The Citizen said adding, “The silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the state government’s refusal to act has led to control of entire territories by cow mob gangs who are now using their power for extortion.”
Rajasthan’s Peoples Union for Civil Liberties President, Kavita Srivastava, issued a statement that lists the numbers of such lynchings in recent times while recording the impunity under which these gangs operate. The Srivastava statement reads:
After having studied collectively with other activists, the lynchings in Mewat area of Rajasthan, it has become clear to the PUCL that Akbar Khan was killed due to extortion. It is well known that extortionists under the garb of Gaurakshaks are roaming the streets looking for a prey. If those carrying cows are able to pay the sum demanded, then they are allowed to go or else fired at and killed.
Sitaram Yechury, Rajya Sabha member and General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (M), in his impassioned speech in the house on the brutal lynchings, said it is not enough for the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to ask the states to act but crucial for the Central and State Governments to ban the private armies that have been emboldened into taking law into their own hands. He quoted, also from the New York Times and the Financial Times to show how the reputation of this government is at an all time low.
[Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com.]
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