The New Indian Normal: Mob Violence and Lynching

Three years of the Modi Government have seen a spate on violent attacks on innocent citizens.

People look on, and, often, so do the police.

A video released on social media Saturday shows a group of self-proclaimed cow vigilantes beating up a young man in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain district. The men are seen hitting the youth with their belts and kicking him. The group is surrounded by on-lookers, none of who stops the crime, despite the victim’s pleas. At least two people film the scene on their mobile phone cameras.

Similar incidents of violence around the country have been surfacing over the past few weeks, all of them, disturbingly, filmed and then put up on social media. Often, videos show both public and official apathy to the violence, which almost suggests that these situations have become the new normal. 

In the video below, released on May 12, a man in Aligarh’s Achal Tal area is thrashed by members of the public, even though there is a police escort. The crowd alleged that the man was guilty of slaughtering a buffalo.

Early in May, in UP’s Sahranpur village, one person was killed, and 16 people, including a police constable, were injured, in a clash between the area’s Dalit and Rajput communities. The Hindu reported that the area had been turned into a fortress and that “additional police force and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) force were called from Muzaffarnagar and deployed in Saharanpur to prevent violence from spreading”. 

The realities of the state are a far cry from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments in his final rally before the UP elections, where he suggested that only the BJP could restore law and order in a state where “women are afraid to go out of their homes unless accompanied by a male member of the family”. 

These incidents are not limited to BJP-ruled states. In Kerala’s Kannur, the BJP demanded last week that AFSPA be imposed, after CPI-M activists killed RSS worker Choorakad Biju. 

On Sunday, a gang of motorcyclists, numbering between 30 and 40, hurled bombs at polling booth and damaged EVMs while voting for civic polls was underway in West Bengal. NDTV reported that the assailants said they were from the BJP. Others reportedly shouted “Jai Shri Ram”, while locals alleged that they were supporters of a local Trinamool leader and were attacking booths in Ward 9, where voters had shifted allegiance to the BJP. 

Earlier, several videos surfaced of the so-called anti-Romeo squads beating up young men and women, as well as of other incidents of supposed cow vigilantism.

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