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Mainstream, VOL LV No 33 New Delhi August 5, 2017

The Epidemic of Lynching: It’s a crying shame on humanity

Saturday 5 August 2017

by M.A. Sofi

Witness the pall of gloom that has enveloped the vale of Kashmir over a long period of time and which of late has assumed staggering proportions as a result of unprecedented violence having been unleashed there following innumerable cases of state brutalities being visited upon young and old Kashmiris alike, regardless of their involvement in acts of revolt against aggression. Notwithstanding that, there are unmistakable signs writ large all over the place that tell us that not all is lost just yet! My reference is to the unqualified and unconditional condemnation of a recent act of lynching of a J&K police officer in the precincts of the grand mosque in Srinagar. The sheer majority of the people of the Valley and spearheaded by a whole lot of noted columnists and writers who have expressed their utter shock and dismay over this ghastly act of inhumanity tells the story of a people who have not let go their sense of proportion in calling a spade a spade in the true spirit of Kashmiriyat. I utilise this occasion to join this illustrious group of conscientious Kashmiris to condemn what is indeed an act against humanity and which violates all norms of decency and civilised behaviour and which I pray and hope to remain a singular and the last case of bestiality ever having been committed in the land of Kashmir.

Having said that, the saddest part of the saga is that with this lynching episode, we in Kashmir have allowed ourselves to stoop to the abysmal level of depravity which is only matched by the conduct of the Indian security forces who have committed innumerable acts of brutality involving innocent civilians in Kashmir. How-ever, the selective condemnation of this event by the ‘hyperpatriotic’ national media in tandem with the self-serving intellectual mafia being invited on their choreographed debates, to the complete neglect of what is being allowed to happen in mainland India reveals a highly biased and toxic mindset of the Indian intelligentsia that can only spell doom to this ‘great country’ called India. One can only imagine what would have been their reaction if the victim of mob-lynching in Srinagar had happened to be a militant. That would surely have been roundly hailed thus exposing their duplicity. If things are allowed to continue like that, such a grim scenario involving the possible descent of this country into total chaos and anarchy would not be long in coming. And the national media would have played no small role in making that happen.

Much as we may—and must—condemn all acts of lynching whether by the government agencies or by the public, the point is that the there are also those who plead that the one involving this police officer in Srinagar is ‘understandable’ though highly condemnable, all the same. Let me hasten to clarify that something being ‘understandable’ is not the same as being justifiable in any sense of the term. In the instant case, the term ‘under-standable’ is used in the context of several cases of cold-blooded killings of innocent Kashmiris by the security forces and the fact that such cases have for the most part remained beyond the pale of the law of the land, with the national media choosing to take no cognisance of these acts of brutality. In such circumstances where it is on the receiving end, the public would naturally seek the first available opportunity to give vent to its pent up anger and wreak vengeance for such acts of oppression having been visited upon them over a long period of time. But succumbing to such bestial tendencies is not in the grain of Kashmiris. The true ethos of Kashmiriyat, which this group of goons surely were not blessed with, would have dictated a different course of action where the police officer would have been spared the fate that was unfortunately meted out to him. In the process, it was the beast in them that had reared its head and shamed the whole community they happen to belong to. The plea that this descent into moral abyss represents a natural fallout of the long regime of state repression and denial of justice does not take away from the sheer savagery of this heinous act, even as the fact remains that its humanity that ends up as the greatest casualty of this state of living under constant threat and siege. This has been aptly summed up in the following words of the noted scholar Dr Ahmed Javaid ‘Dehumanising the oppressed constitutes the greatest victory of the oppressor’.

The arrogance and the ease with which the media is seen to filibuster the discussion involving the opinion of the nonconforming guests at its shows is both sinister and amusing. This is sought to be done by invoking the inverted logic of pinning down the opponent on the specious plea that the latter had not raised his/her voice when such and such a thing had happened in the past and, therefore, he/she has ‘no justification’ to raise his/her voice on something that is happening right now. This stratagem was played out ad nauseam at the time of award-wapsi about a year ago as it is being enacted now when a pan-Indian campaign under the epithet ‘not in my name’ is underway against this epidemic of lynching in the country which has now claimed one more life in Jharkhand yesterday, following the blood curdling episode involving a young victim Junaid from Haryana who was lynched by a mob of blood thirsty goons in a train in Delhi. It was only in the aftermath of this event that the prime minister chose to make some noises for the first time in a year against cow vigilantes. However, considering that Akhlaq’s killers continue to remain outside the pale of law even more than a year after the crime was committed doesn’t inspire much optimism in the ability of the law enforcing machinery to go against the culprits involved in these despicable acts of brutality against fellow Indians. The absence of action by the government against the perpetrators of these ghastly crimes in the name of ‘nationalism’ tells the story of a political dispensation which is either spineless in taking on this gang of goons or is complicit in according sanction to these crimes against humanity. It is only because of the confidence in the certainty of getting away with these heinous crimes that we are witnessing a spurt in these acts of violence against certain communities and groups in India. If only the government were to act tough against such antisocial elements, the incidence of such crimes would become that much rarer.

On the other hand, how their perception on Kashmir has been coloured by their misplaced notions of nationalism and patriotism rooted as they are in their own version of Hindu religion, is brought home by the fact that alongside the false narrative being weaved by large sections of the national media through these rabid, hysterical TV anchors, there are alternative narratives which are rooted in an honest, impartial and unbiased appraisal of the ground reality in Kashmir. It goes without saying that the much touted ‘liberal democracy’ and the great economic prowess of India has been routinely, systematically and insidiously denied footprints in Kashmir. Even a modicum of understanding about how the present dispensation is planning its strategy to cling to power for as long as it can, gives an idea of how it plans to muscle its way at the hustings to grab power, should its ‘sab ka vikas’ plank fail to materialise. Which is why I continue to pray and root for huge strides in the economic growth of this country even, as I have said above, it has been denied to the people of Kashmir all the way since 1947. The simple reason is that in the event of the economy failing to take off and in the process ceasing to be exploited as an election ploy, those ruling the roost at the moment shall have no qualms in employing the most sinister and dirty tricks in the trade to whip up mass frenzy to garner votes. This is sought to be achieved, as is their wont, by creating conditions for communal conflagration in the country, a strategy which for them has always come in handy as a ‘time-tested’ and dependable ploy to grab power. To wit, hark back to the late eighties when the (in)famous Rath Yatra had left a trail of blood in large parts of India and more recently in the run-up to the 2014 general elections when the Muzaffarnagar riots were engineered to do the trick. Right now, one is already beginning to witness early signs of such a devious gameplan having been put in place in the form of an orchestrated campaign to continue to unleash terror in the Valley, on the one hand, and of disturbingly frequent cases involving lynching of people of this country who happen to belong to a certain religious community, on the other. This diabolical game is expected to be played out to its devastating effect in the run-up to the 2019 elections. What is deeply disconcerting is the thought that these Machiavellian ploys happen to have takers in large parts of mainland India including sections of the so-called educated elite of this country. These, one would reckon, are indeed very bad times for a country which used to be respected among the comity of nations, but for reasons other than these. And how could that not be, considering that the sole and the singular aim of the present regime is to ‘somehow’ win elections after elections, regardless of the methods being employed to that end.

There is though a method in all this madness. The RSS idealogue, S. Gurumurthy, contends that ‘India is secular because it is Hindu’ which I find is downright absurd and false. On the contrary, one has reasons to assert that India is not secular—not at least now—because it is not quintessentially Hindu’. After all, its conduct through its conduit at the Centre bespeaks a mindset that is typically ‘Sanghi’ in ethos and hence divisive, nonsecular and regressive in character. Nowhere else is its devious mindset more in evidence than in Kashmir where one has to live to witness the drama of deceit and deception being enacted by it through the state machinery which it is using to crush the genuine voices of dissent in Kashmir. One feels appalled by this double-speak, obfuscation and devious intent that characterise the Sanghi ‘ideology’. The bottomline is that these guys have no use for religion, morality and ethics which are merely being exploited to advance their nefarious agenda aimed at dividing the people of India. Why dont the people of India understand this and wake up is a permanent source of worry to those who believe in peace and mutual co-existence!

This antediluvian philosophy of the Sangh is redolent of the "dictatorship of definitiveness” which is sweeping across vast swathes of India where one is taught to be ‘too sure of one’s faith, actions and convictions’. Let us pray and vow to fight for the total decimation and annihilation of the forces of evil aimed at spreading hatred and disaffection amongst social/ religious communities in India and around the world, for the complete and irreversible destruction of the apologists of violence against the ‘other’ in the name of faith, religion and nationality and for good sense to prevail upon those who adhere to a supremacist view of their religious faith over assorted shades of faith being espoused by the other. Only in the event of total denial of space being ceded to these forces of evil may one hope for a climate to engender where justice and a life of honour and dignity are guaranteed to the downtrodden sections of the society and to those who have been denied these over such a long period of their subjugation by these evil forces.

The author belongs to the Department of Mathematics, Kashmir University, Srinagar.

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