The reality of lynchings

Tabrez new

The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in recent Vijay Dashami speech pointed out that ‘Lynching’ is a ‘Western concept’ and alien to India. It has its origins in Bible and that ‘lynching’ is being used to defame India. He was in a denial mode for the criticism being raised on incidents of ‘lynchings’ in India.

It does not really matter whether the word ‘lynching’ originated in India. Its applicability in India is not dependent on geographies of its origin, but applicability of its attributes in different contexts including India.

Lynching refers to premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is used to characterize informal public executions by a mob to punish an alleged transgressor, convicted transgressor or to intimidate a group. It is a form of extreme form of informal group social control, and is often conducted with the display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation. [1]

In United States, incidents of ‘lynchings’ have been recorded during the period of abolition of slavery and even thereafter. The incidents mostly involved African Americans. It is estimated that during the period 1868 to 1871 – 400 lynchings took place. Similarly during 1882 to 1968, 3,446 lynchings of blacks took place. Mob violence was seen as a way of establishing white supremacy. Incidents of lynchings have also been witnessed in Britain.

Attributes of ‘lynchings’ in the recent Indian context need to be delved into. They are triggered by attempts by RSS to establish ‘Hindu supremacy’ similar to other ‘western societies’ which intended at establishing ‘white supremacy’.

Firstly, these incidents are based on the primary ideological beliefs that India is a land of the Hindus. The existence of other religions is considered to be an aberration, where they have either been forcibly converted or lured to be converted. Hence the only way to exist in India is to undertake the process of ‘Ghar Whapsi’ by returning to their ‘original’ religion.

Secondly, ‘culture’is deterministic in its nature according to RSS and religion is the only basis through which it can be defined. Hence there are different cultures – Hindu culture, Muslim culture, Christian culture. India being the land of the Hindus, the other religions should either come back to ‘Hinduism’ or adopt their ‘culture’ what is defined as ‘Hindu culture’. The prevalence of diversity of ‘culture’ within a religion across regions and linguistic groups is ignored. The culture belonging to ‘Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan’ and upper caste is considered to be the mainstream cultures, to which others need to assimilate.

What is considered as ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ by ‘Hindus’ are to be adhered to by other religions, even if it means giving up their own cultural practices. Hence if cow is a sacred symbol for the Hindus, the other religions should give up the practice and not consume ‘beef’.

Thirdly, the supremacy of ‘Hindus’ over other religions need to be taken as given in India. Other religions can only live as second grade citizens. Two citizens of different religions are not equal, but are determined by the religion they belong to.

The equal citizenship rights provided to people based on the constitution does not really matter. Citizens are not equal. Hindus come at the top of the hierarchy and Christians and Muslims at the bottom. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are only considered to be variants of Hinduism and hence the reason they just follow below Hinduism.

Within the Hindus the practices followed by the upper castes is considered superior to others. Hence beef eating which is not prevalent among upper castes is considered normal. Those practicing beef eating such as ‘Dalits’ and ‘Adivasis’ hence need to give it up.

Fourthly, RSS is seen as the ‘authority’ that would define what it means to be a ‘Nation’, ‘Culture’, ‘Hindu’. In this definition there is uniformity of practices. Uniformity, Inequality, Hierarchy and common cultural practices need to be taken as given. Diversity and Equality are seen as a weakness.

Fifthly, to create a Hindu Rashtra it is absolutely fine to impose this ‘uniformity, inequality, hierarchy and common cultural practices’. It is only then India would acquire a ‘Nationhood’. Cow being a symbol of ‘cultural practice’ for this uniformity of practice – it is absolutely fine to impose the same even through a mob violence. Minorities need to be made to prove their nationalism by uttering ‘Jai Shriram’ and ‘Vandemataram’. It is only through these slogans, their nationalism can be tested. This needs to be enforced if necessary. Mob violence are only triggers of the ideological propaganda.

It can be seen that the recent lynching incidents are a direct result of the ideological propaganda carried out by RSS and its other Hindutva soldiers over the last many decades and particularly the last five years. Social media such as ‘whaats app’, ‘facebook’, ‘twitter’ has been extensively used to mobilize the mobs against ‘minorities’ and ‘dalits’ whom it considered as going against the ‘norms’ set by the RSS defined Hindu culture. The attributes of lynching such as intimidating a group, exercising control over others, establishing superiority and carrying out premeditated attacks and executions are very much part of the incidents which occurred in India. Hence irrespective of its origin and how differently it could be defined, Lynchings are a reality and become a part of growing violence against minorities in India.

Author: T Navin is a Researcher and works with an NGO

[1]Wood, Amy Louise (2009). Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947. North Carolina University Press




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