Mob Violence and Justice in India

Although mob violence has a dense background, does it have cogent solutions?

A mob beats up 7 Dalits in Gujarat for extracting dead cow skin. Another self-declared right-wing cow vigilantes kills a Muslim cattle trader in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Elsewhere, a mob severely beats a Dalit man for having an affair with a higher caste woman. A notorious parliament member, who allegedly beat up an airline staff, is openly defended with the threat of a mob attack. Farmers across the nation carryout power shows against the government, demanding farm loan waiver.

It is the rise of mob power; one that appoints itself to a position for rendering “justice”, and in enacting thus, it ends up being ignorantly self-propelled. If this is nationalism, then all it reflects is a gaping, void judicial system and the government’s role in disallowing such scenarios. As much as mob violence occurs, it sadly indicates the demise of democracy, governance, and judiciary.

But before we start proclaiming that the authority is at fault, some retrospective thinking is perhaps warranted. The rise of mob violence indicates the resistant rise of suppressed anger for a cause that is perceived to be worthy of defending. Perpetuators of mob violence come forward as self-proclaimed repairers of democratic deficiencies, and acts as judges. Ideally, vigilante justice is reasonable and conceivable in provinces where law enforcement is either inefficient, non-existent, or insufficient. India is experiencing mob violence at the pace of new Bollywood movie releases. Social unrest speaks out loud, demanding instant and alterative justice, which, as per them, has remained unattended by the government and judicial authorities. The killing of cow slaughterers is seen by the mob as an act of defending the democratic attributes of a society, of which they assume guardianship. They fail to notice that if saving a cow from dying is justified through mob violence, so is saving an innocent civilian, who regrets his misdeed. Vigilante justice has been so frequent that the number of court cases have endlessly increased, while the number of judges have decreased, on the other hand, revealing further judicial deficiencies, and inefficiencies in law enforcement. Added to this, inefficiencies in the Indian government remain a fact.

When governance standards are compared with equally populated and equally progressive nations with high resistance to such events, civil society in India projects quite a phobic picture. Yes, some situations have been amplified by the media, and there seems no end to such exposition. Nevertheless, the evaded truth is that mob justice is rampant, and more often than not, an ineffective government is blamed as the reason for justifying it. Mob violence’s attachment to nationalism is not new; we have witnessed this is in the US during the Bin Laden period, in Europe again migrants, and since decades in India, if not this frequent.

At the forefront lies India’s religious tolerance and co-existence necessities. To reverse the trend of rising religious violence, the government could deliberately separate religion and politics, and deal with all cases of violence as detached from religious sentiments. As ironical it may be, establishing a law-abiding society being the primary and foremost aim of the government, law enforcement should be practiced in a way which consistently transcends its earlier limits. Equality and equity lies in the merits of governance, and it is within the power of the government to establish an environment of superior ethics in practice. Law is the prime source of right reasoning, which lacks all influences of attachment to any attribute, and hence it should be enforced equally on all. Unless a mountainous attempt to introduce strict law-enforcement practices are not in place, self-proclaimed “defenders of democracy” shall keep breaching legislative boundaries and continue to be the face and pride of nationalism politics.

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