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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 14 New Delhi March 21, 2020

Anatomy of Lynching under BJP Rule in India

Tuesday 24 March 2020

BOOK REVIEW

by Mohammad Chingiz Khan

Lynch Files: The Forgotten Saga of Victims of Hate Crime by Ziya Us Salam; pp. i to xxvi, 193; New Delhi: SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd.; 2019; Rs 450.

The comprehensive treatise of eminent journalist and social commentator Ziya Us Salam’s

Lynch Files: The Forgotten Saga of Victims of Hate Crime

is one of such critiques that deals with the horrendous incidents of mob-lynching happening in different States of India against the minorities, especially Muslims, and Dalits in the pretext of cow protection or caste or religion or stereotyping. It is indeed a great effort for bringing such a social issue on to the forefront and writing such a lucid, forceful, insightful and thought provoking piece of media reports on the different case studies of mob-lynching and hate crimes faced by the minorities across the country. It reveals further vistas of research on the issue of mob-lynching and hate crimes against the religious minorities and Dalits. It has five files discussing the historical roots of the Gauraksha movement in India. The detailed case studies of different mob-lynching incidents in several Indian States based on media reports, etc. that are systematically brought out.

The first file discusses cow as a sacred and political animal by quoting from the acclaimed historian, Prof D. N. Jha’s interview in the Frontline magazine rather than Prof Jha’s own book The Myth of the Holy Cow by Navayana Publishing in Delhi. The author tried to portray the sacredness of the historical roots of cow occupying a space in North India after the failure of the Revolt of 1857 but before that, it was not a definite move. (pp. 9-14) He mentioned clearly that a definite move was made during the Mughal period towards safeguarding the cattle. He claimed that the demands were made to prohibit cow slaughter since the 1870s along with the emergence of Gaurakshinisabhas. It needs to be examined and scrutinised in detail about how this movement came into being and began to be used as a tool by many political leaders for their own vested interests in India. He also mentions the emergence of the Bharatiya Gau Raksha Dal in this context.

The second file talks of media reports of mob-lynching of Muslims as easy targets by Hindutva mobs post-2014. By applying the methodical approach, he cogently documented some of the mob-lynching incidents involving Dadri’s Akhlaq, Qasim and Samiuddin in Uttar Pradesh; Mohsin Shaikh in Maharashtra; Pehlu Khan, Rakbar Khan, Umar and Tahir in Rajasthan; Rajsamand Afrazul in West Bengal; Junaid and Mustan Abbas in Haryana; Alimuddin Ansari, Usman Ansari, Mazloom Ansari and Imtiaz in Jharkhand; Sammi in Jammu; Noman in Himachal Pradesh; Siraj Khan and Shakeel in Madhya Pradesh; Rizwan, Kamil and Ashfaq in the national Capital, Delhi.

The third file also presents a gloomy picture of horrifying incidents of Dalit mob-lynching perpetrated by the upper-caste Hindus in the name of caste and religion which is evidenced from the incident of the 90-year-old Chimma in Uttar Pradesh for entering a temple; Vashram Sarvaiya, his brother Ramesh and their cousins Ashok and Bechar for skinning a dead cow at Una in Gujarat respectively.

The fourth file contains media reports of mob-lynching that happened in different parts of India ranging from South India to North-East India. Such incidents were not reported widely as compared to the North Indian States. The last file contains the reports of the Supreme Court’s direction to Parliament to frame laws for mob-lynching of Muslims and Dalits and termed these as ‘horrendous acts of mobocracy’ (p. 181), that disturbed the ‘pluralistic social fabric’ of the country and also described the factors such as spreading hate, bigotry and everything that lead to lynching.

He emphasised and focused exhaustively and specifically on the North Indian States such as Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and other adjoining States. The author also discussed the other East and North-East States such as Assam, Nagaland, Jharkhand, Bengal, Bihar, etc. and South Indian States like Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, etc. over this issue though in a sketchy manner. He claimed that the rate of such vicious and fiendish crimes was high since the coming of the BJP-led government in 2014 as compared to the previous dispensations. After going through his book conscientiously and assiduously, a few deliberations and observations emerged. Firstly, the author has mentioned the issue of mob lynching at Dimapur in Nagaland rather haphazardly. There was much hue and cry all over the country over this issue. It should have been dealt with in detail.

Secondly, the case study of mob-lynching that happened in Manipur was also missing. Recently, an MBA graduate, Md. Farooque Khan alias Furqan S/o Md. Nasib Ali (a retired Deputy Inspector of Education under Lilong Sub-Division) from the Pangal-inhabited Lilong Mayai Leikai in Thoubal District, Manipur was mob-lynched at Tharoijam village, Imphal West. Such an incident culminated in the passage of The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence, Act 2018 by the State Government. In the mob-lynching incident in Manipur, a pattern of blaming a thief or burglar could be observed. Md. Hasmad Ali, a primary school headmaster, was killed allegedly for cow theft. Mohammad Saddam and Mohammad Farooque (Imphal), both school students, were lynched in a communal-like incident in April 2016 at Mayang Imphal Yangbi Garden, Imphal West. In June 2017, Md Rakib Ali (19 years) and Md Anish (20 years) were lynched by an angry mob in Thoubal District, Manipur and many more cases of mob lynching in the Statehappenedat Yairipok, Khangabok, Heingang Ahallup and Iram Siphai. But these incidents could not come to the limelight of the national media. The examination of such incidents needs to be brought out judiciously and extensively.

Thirdly, all the mob-lynching incidents mentioned in the author’s work are, by and large, based on media reports rather than what actually happened on the ground. These need to be examined broadly.

Fourthly, there is no bibliography in the book.

However, the book on mob lynching incidents is one of its kind. And its publication is remarkably unparalleled. It can be a basic source of information on such an issue that would be immensely helpful for researchers in future.

References

1. D. N. Jha, The Myth of the Holy Cow, Navayana Publishing, New Delhi, 2010.

2. Md. Chingiz Khan and Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan,‘Stereotyping for Lynching in Manipur’ in The Pioneer on December 30, 2018. The link is given as: https://www.dailypioneer.com/2018/sunday-edition/stereotyping-for-lynching-in-manipur-.html. It was also published in Madhyamam (daily newspaper) in Malayalam language.

3. Md. Chingiz Khan and Mohammad Imtiyaj Khan, ‘The Identity Crisis of Manipuri Muslims’ in the Forward Press Magazine on May 22, 2019. The link is given as: https://www.forwardpress.in/2019/05/the-identity-crisis-of-manipuri-muslims/

4. Md. Chingiz Khan, ‘A laudable effort’, in The Assam Tribune, July 16, 2019.

Mohammad Chingiz Khan is a Doctoral candidate, Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is a Ph.D Research Scholar and his dissertation is on the theme ‘The Formation of Muslim Community in Manipur during 17th and 18th Centuries’. He is pursuing his Ph.D under the supervision of Prof Najaf Haider.

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