Bheed ka koi chehra nahi hota. The mob does not have a face. But lately in India, in the wake of a barrage of lynchings by unruly crowds, it seems the mob is finally developing a face. It is saffron in color; its voice is the chanting of Jai Shri Ram, yet it will never be held accountable for its actions, for majority of the country looks like this. Who do you point a finger at when they are all the same?
Tabrez Ansari is just a small addition to a long list of names: Junaid Khan, Pehlu Khan, Mohammad Akhlaq…so many you’d lose count. The victims have one thing in common- religion. The latest addition, Tabrez Ansari was captured by a mob on the allegations of attempting to steal a motorcycle. But unrelated to his alleged offence was what happened after: he was tied to a pole, forced to chant Jai Shri Ram and then beaten to death, and then handed over to the police. A ‘victorious’ video was made of his ordeal and circulated as a symbol of triumphant. Justice was served, in their eyes.
The apparent reasons for these lynchings are cow smuggling and slaughter, love jihad, fight over train seats and other frivolous excuses to cover up the underlying poison. These inhuman crimes are a result of a deep seated notion of superiority and righteousness. Imagine being so up on a pedestal that you don’t think twice before attacking someone. Imagine being so blatantly unconcerned about the consequences of ripping apart a human. Imagine the psychopathic mentality that dehumanizes fellow beings- people with the same skin, blood and rights as you; so much so that you do not deem them worthy of existence. And now imagine being on the other side: to cower in fear and walk with heads down, because if you raise them, there will be consequences. Imagine living in the inexplicable tension of whether your child will come home or not, because he chose to wear his skullcap today. Imagine, having no justice for all this. And the government of India has the audacity to reject the US report on religious freedom.
Jai Shri Ram and Allah Hu Akbar both have three words. The difference is that when you shout the former, you have a miniscule chance of appeasing your attacker; and if you whisper the latter, you risk being killed in gruesome way one dare not think about. This frightening rise of toxic right-wing violence and its legitimization and moral support is perhaps, one of the most frightening times. The ruling party is theirs, so is the country’s majority population. Hope is increasingly scarce. There are a number of factors that play a part in the escalation of violence towards the minority community. From inflammatory speeches by big leaders to communal vitriol of the man on the street, it all boils down to this. Who gave theses unruly crowds power to dispense justice and morality on their own terms? Do you think arresting 4 people after the horrific incident is justice when they get bail in seconds; and most of the times are not even arrested in the first place. In fact in Akhlaq’s case, the victim’s family was charged for cow slaughter instead of the guilty being punished.
Till the times such a tragedy does not strike the walls of our house, we are content with watching the news on our TV and commenting about it. You ask what you can do. Maybe you can go out and spread awareness, ensure a resistance exists. Maybe you can stop giving these mobs so much power through small actions of support, and break stereotypes. We as citizens only rise up to problems we face intimately, problems that solely concern us. Have you seen a lynching in your close vicinity? Most probably not, but who knows you will. Your neighbor might one day be a part of it, your family member too, if not the perpetrator, then the victim maybe. Maybe. But you won’t be able to do anything about it because bheed k koi chehra nahi hota!