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When the mob is let loose

When the mob is let loose

What an abyss of anarchy will the dominance acquired by alienation and mutual hatred lead the country to, is well illustrated by mob lynchings increasing each day. The state of the country is such that the mob is in a free for all, to suspect anything and anybody as enemy and liquidate him.

The governments in the Centre and states led by Sangh parivar have been adopting an indifferent attitude that gives approval in principle for these lynchings. There has already been a mass killing series against Muslims, who were declared internal enemies because they do not follow their stream of thought, and that net is being widened. And this has landed the country in a terrorism of the kind in which the mob is converting the authority, to kill any one who comes in its vicinity, and at the slightest suspicion, into a right. The killings that started in the name of beef in 2015 at Dadri have been continuing uncontrolled until the one in Hapur of Uttar Pradesh. And even in Kerala where everything is thought to be in order, this evil malady has reached a stage when a man can be manhandled and killed in the middle of the road.

The central government has so far done nothing to stop these terrorist acts that are capable of tarnishing the face of the country. Prime Minister's talk series on every Sunday 'Man ki baat' has completed 45 episodes. In that programme, featuring everything under the sun, the Prime Minister has not done anything until now to either openly decry such mob killings or warn people against them. In last week's episode, he dwelt upon matters ranging from greetings to the India-Afghan cricket match to the various government schemes. He became loquacious about peace and non-violence recollecting the thoughts of Kabir Das and Guru Nanak. On June 11th two Muslim youths in Goda, Jharkhand, on June 18th meat merchant Qasim in Hapur in UP, and Thouheed Ansari, on the suspicion of carrying meat on June 19thin Ramgarh in Jharkhandh were killed by mobs. And though Modi's speech came when these incidents were still fresh in people's memory, for him they did not constitute 'man ki baat'. The silence and indifference of the prime minister and the chief ministers of states where these happened, have helped cast the public mind into such a mould that Muslims can be beaten to death any time anywhere in the name of beef or any such pretext. Thus India has walked its path to the tragic point where rowdy gangs wrest law and order from governments. The mob killings that took place on June 28th in the small state of Tripura in the name of rumours, are sounding the alarm bell of such a tragedy.

Following the spread of rumours via social media that children were being kidnapped, mobs killed three people in three districts on a single day. An 11-year old boy was found dead in a place called Mohanpur. Some one who found a sign of an injury on his body, raised the suspicion that his kidney was stolen and the people lost no time in taking up that case. The education minister of Tripura who reached the boy's home not only ratified that, but even issued statements that it 'was a tragedy that Tripura has not witnessed so far' and alleged international connections of the kidney harvesters. The video clippings of the news including the minister's statement spread like wild fire. With that, criminal gangs entered the scene, on behalf of the people, against child kidnappers. They shouted at a forty-year old woman, who looked like roaming in the villages of western Tripura, dubbed her child kidnapper and lynched her to death. The mob, by then with added frenzy, turned its attention on a few Muslim merchants who came that way from Uttar Pradesh, and followed their car. When the passengers in the car stopped by the road side, and entered a shop for tea, suspicion arose in one of them. They summoned more people. Although the driver, out of fear for life, drove the car to the safety of a neighbouring para-military camp, the crowd entered there, pulled them out of the car and started beating them. One of them, Saheer Khan was killed and three of his friends were severely injured. Not only were those who pointed out the danger of following rumours, not heeded, they too were killed.

In the village of Sabroom 130 kilometers from Agartala, Sukanta Chakravarty who arrived there under the directions of district administration for creating awareness against rumour mongering, was beaten and stoned to death. In spite of all this happening, the new BJP regime in Tripura did not do anything more than catching a few for questioning. Although the Opposition came out strongly demanding action the minister who added fuel to the fire, that did not have any effect. The minister looked like being of the view that when the people had a doubt, there was nothing else to be done than standing by them. In other words, any miscreant action, if coming from the people, will have the backing of authorities. Several people were killed due to such WhatsApp rumours in May last year: six persons in Jharkhand, nine persons in south India, and one worker from a different state in Rajasthan. Tripura tells us what kind of anarchy the country will be thrown into, if this flogging and killing, and taking law into their hands by the people on the strength of mere suspicion, continue unchecked. All parties will do well to remember that if the scourge of mob killing is let loose, it will get away with killing not only democracy, but even the people.

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