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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 30 New Delhi July 13, 2019

Do Not Endorse Lynchings, Please

Saturday 13 July 2019, by T J S George

IMPRESSIONS

In a democracy, a working majority is better than a brute majority. This is especially so in a country like India where the structure of democracy is honoured while the spirit is not. The effects of the brute majority enjoyed by the present government have been unhealthy as the actions and statements of its leaders frequently demonstrate. BJP leaders themselves must think where this is going to take the country, and indeed their party.

Consider, for example, an MLA going violent in Indore and justifying it as part of his duty to the party. Indore is the unchallenged power- base of BJP stalwart Kailash Vijayavargiya. He is a man with an enviable record—mayor of Indore, State legislator who never lost an election, Cabinet Minister for 12 years. A strategist of considerable ability, he managed the party’s electoral victory in Haryana and is currently in charge of the party’s affairs in turbulent West Bengal.

However, Kailash Vijayavargiya has the Congress habit of dynasticism. His son, Akash, not only became an MLA, but started doing things he had no right to. Last week, he was seen hitting two men with a cricket bat in a crowded locality. The occasion and the identity of the victims spoke volumes about the mentality of new gen BJP brass. The men on whom the cricket bat landed were municipal officers who were trying to clear encroachments in a part of

the city. Apparently Akash Vijayavargiya wanted the encroachers to be left undisturbed. The reason he gave for the thrashing underlined the criminality of the action. “In the BJP,” he said, “we are taught aavedan, nivedan then danadan,” first request, then attack.

The man was arrested, and denied bail. But that was unlikely to have any impact on the Vijayavargiya view of the world. Journalists naturally asked father Kailash about son Akash and his cricket bat. The father responded not as a citizen or even as a clever party leader, but as a blinded father. Losing his cool, he turned on the reporter and asked: “Are you the judge?” To his credit, the reporter reminded the father of the visuals showing his son in action with the bat. The father’s response: “Who are you? You will pass judgment on an MLA?” So that’s it. If you are an MLA, you are above the law. That kind of thinking marks a dead end for democracy.

Actually party thinking has gone to disturbing levels on activities that civilised countries would consider a blot on them. Lynching, for example. It is astonishing that the deliberate beating to death of victims by communally driven crowds has become a spectacle in 21st century India. Jharkhand witnessed the latest incident last week. As usual it happened before cameras and the world watched a defenceless victim being beaten by sticks as a crowd watched. He died a day later.

Even more disgraceful than the lynching was the report rushed to the media by a Special Investigation Team saying that the man died of “stress-induced cardiac arrest”. That only added to the public outrage. It turned out that 18 cases of lynching had taken place in Jharkhand alone since March 2016.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister took note of it in a negative way and made assertions that only betrayed his partisanship. He was pained at the lynching and those responsible should get stringent punishment, Shri Modi said. Then he added that BJP-ruled Jharkhand should not be singled out for attack and that violence in West Bengal and Kerala should also be treated on equal basis. He was insincere in the first statement, and wrong on the second.

No one has been punished in any case of lynching to date, not even those responsible for the 2015 Dadri lynching. Eighteen men were accused, then bailed out. Actually police later filed FIR charging the relatives of the lynch victim with cow slaughter.

It is callous to see all violence as same. BJP goons and Communist goons killing one another in Malabar, and BJP goons and Trinamul goons engaged in competitive killing in Bengal are different from a BJP crowd beating a lone victim to death by the roadside. That lynching should be condoned in the name of murderous politics is unworthy of the Prime Minister of a country like India. It’s our misfortune that much that is unworthy is passed on these days as worthy.

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