Lynchistan: India’s Mob Lynching Cases Are Sharply Rising
The number of incidents relating to lynching and mob violence has increased multi-fold in the last few years, especially after the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the center in May 2014. Lynchistan is a term coined to describe India in the wake of this spike in incidents of mob violence against minorities, in this case Indian Muslims. With little to no action against the perpetrators of violence and indirect support from the administration, there seems to be no immediate respite in the targeted assaults, let alone justice. The number of cases of brutality against Muslims across India, seem to have touched an all time high.
In a recent incident, on 16 May, Asif Khan of Mewat, Haryana was brutally killed by a Hindutva mob while he was out to buy medicines with his cousins. A gym trainer by profession, Asif was beaten to death and two of his cousins were seriously injured. He was attacked with sticks and rods, and later thrown in a ditch. Asif succumbed to his injuries on 19 May. Six people were arrested for lynching Asif to death. Asif’s brother claimed that Asif was forced to chant Jai Shri Ram, while many reports claim that the deceased’s brother is lying about JSR chants.
The story doesn’t end here!
On 30 May, Karni Sena Chief Suraj Pal Amu, organized a Mahapanchayat which was attended by over 50,000 people (Non-Muslims) in support of the killers. Suraj Pal Amu demanded that the killers should be released. Amu in his speech quite boldly asked the crowd “hum inn logo (Muslims) ko maarenge bhi nahi?” (We won’t even kill these Muslims?).
This Mahapanchayat openly promoted Islamophobia, hate speech and justified killing of Muslims. An FIR was also registered against the Karni Sena Chief but no action was taken. Instead Suraj Pal Amu was subsequently appointed as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) spokesperson.
In a more recent incident in Loni district of Uttar Pradesh, an elderly Muslim man was brutally thrashed by 6 people, his beard was chopped (in Islam beard is considered to be associated with religious identity). As per the victim, the assaulters forced him to chant Jai Shri Ram, however many twists have emerged in the incident, the police claimed that the assaulters didn’t force the old man to chant JSR, in fact they had an old rivalry due to which the the elderly man was beaten up. After the police version, various news media started debating on the fact that an internal rivalry clash was communalized by few reporters on Twitter and the social media didn’t take any action.
It clearly shows how quick the media was to counter the victim statement as soon as the police version came out, and treated the latter version as gospel truth. None of the media channel responded on Asif Khan lynching and the Mahapanchayat that was organized to defend the killers, the media has time and again shown itself as the government’s mouthpiece.
Similarly, on 1 June, 21 year old Junaid, resident of Mewat, Haryana was mercilessly beaten up by the Faridabad police. On 30 May, the police illegally detained Junaid while he was coming back from a wedding. The brutal torture of police resulted in Junaid’s death. As per Junaid’s family the police also took a bribe of Rs. 70,000, and also used anti-Muslim slurs against the family.
On 20 June three Muslim men were lynched by a Hindutva mob in Tripura’s Khowai district. As per the police, the villagers stated that they saw Muslim men flee with five cattles in a vehicle. As per the Maktoob media report the “mob thrashed all three men with lethal weapons, they lynched two of them to death on suspect cattle lifters” . As of now, the police have registered the case against unknown people.
These incidents are just a few of the lot and happened in just the last two months, indicating the rampant Islamophobia in India and the ever increasing hate sentiment amongst the majority. It is significant to note that these are not isolated incidents, they are increasingly becoming normalized to an extent that no national media finds it important enough to highlight the targeted brutalities..
On one hand, when BJP came to power in 2014, many feared (rightly so) that the political war would soon turn into a communal one. However, with the unprecedented rise in the number of cases and the increasing normalization of attacks on Muslims in India, many have started turning a blind eye and a lot of people choose to stay silent on the topic, fearing that choosing a side will get them in trouble. An evident behavioral shift amongst the common citizens is turning to be the most pressing issue, their silence is encouraging the perpetrators to continue the brutal killings and attacks on Muslims. As disturbing as it may sound, the unspoken support from the state, compliance of the administration (police and media) and the continued ignorance of the general public have put the lives of Muslims at the edge of a cliff.