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Review of Literature on Mob-Lynching in India

Mob-violence is getting increased day by day in India. The right thinking citizens of India worried about escalating situation of mob-lynching in day light under various pretext.

The fact is that the Mob violence is not considered to be the past. The effect of mob-violence continues to trouble our society even to-day. History is brimming with examples of communal violence not only in cities but also in villages, among the communities, and in entire regions with uncontrolled and destructive violence in many places and at most times for the reasons known to mob.

Group of blood-thirsty mobs have been signalling fear in the hearts of Dalits and Muslims, as they've gone about lynching or attacking people, in the name of cow protection. As per the indiaspend.com (a data journalism site)[1], 86% of murder in cow-related violence since 2010 are Muslim and 97 per cent of the attacks have taken place after 2014.

Historical background of the mob-violence

Mob-violence is not a new phenomena in India. Many a times mob enters into the violence just within a few seconds, without thinking a second on the actual issue for which the mob interested. Mob psychology almost go to-gather in similar fashion resulting either vandalising or beating the innocents, which leads to death.

First report of mob-Violence in Gujarat in 1714

The first record of mob-violence was due to "Holi Riot" held in Gujarat in the year 1714, which was found to be in part cow-related issue[2],[3]. The violent mob burnt the markets and homes. During this escalated incidence many Hindus and Muslims died. That has not ended with that mass death, the cycle of violence continued unabated for a few days resulting devastation of the neighbourhood in Ahmedabad.

This cow-related violence and riots used to repeat year after year. The Sikh Kukas or Namdharis were in agitation for the protection of cows when the British annexed Punjab. Barbara Metcalf and Thomas Metcalf (2012)[4] said that Sikhs were agitating for the protection of cows in the 1860s, and this ideas spread to reform movements of Hindu.

Hundred people murdered due to cow related issue

Judith Walsh (2006)[5] reported that widespread cow protection riots occurred continuously in British India in 1880s and 1890s. Cow protection were observed in regions of Punjab, United Provinces, Bihar, Bengal, Bombay etc. The anti-Cow Killing riots which took place in 1893 in Punjab resulted in the death of nearly 100 people.

In Bombay alone, several hundred people were killed or injured in cow-related violence in 1893 as given by Hardy (1972)[6]. Walsh[7], in these riots was "the Muslim slaughter of cows for meat, particularly as part of religious festivals such as Bakr-Id".

Mau of U.P. mob-violence in 1806

In the Mau a town in eastern Uttar Pradesh, there were riots in 1806 (John McLane,2015)[8], that had led to Sadar Nizamat Adawlat to prohibit cow sacrifices in 1808.

In 1860s, the interpretation of sacrifice banning changed to Muslim version wherein cattle slaughter is not banned. This created generated displeasure among Hindus (McLane,2015)[9]. Mau having Muslim of half of its population, resisted Hindu's interpretation. It all started when a "local zamindar (landowner) being Muslim shown interest on sacrificing an animal during his daughter's wedding. Immediately, a group of Hindus gathered locally to resist the same.

Nearly, four thousand Hindus men from Ballia district and two thousand from Ghazipur district gathered in Mau with a view to stop the sacrifice in 1893. The Hindus who are bent upon to protecting cow started attacking the Muslims and also looted their shops in a bazaar in Mau. British officials estimated of about seven Muslims were killed in the riots, while locals estimated at 200 deaths.

Mob-violence in beginning of 20th century

Beginning of 20th century became with serious cow protection agitation and riots which included the 1909 Calcutta riot when Muslims sacrificed a cow in public. Simioarly in 1912 Faizabad riots witnessed when a Maulvi taunted a group of Hindus about a cow, in 1911 Muzaffarpur riot which was retaliation for cow slaughter by Muslims, the Hindus threatened to vandalise a mosque[10].

In 1916 and 1917, during the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Adha, two riots consecutively broke out in Patna resulting in looting, rioting and murders in major cities of Bihar. The British banned cow slaughter during Muslim Id festival. The record reported that Hindu crowds of 25,000 attacked Muslims on Id day, hence, violence broke out at many places. Similarly, many anti cow slaughter and cow protection- riots broke out from 1917 to 1928 across India.

Hundred riots and 450 deaths in Bengal

Surprisingly, during 1920s, more than 100 riots which resulted 450 deaths and 5,000 injured were reported in Bengal. Nitish Sengupta (2011)[11] informs that Hindus playing music during Durga Puja processions which passed through mosques, and killing of cows by Muslims in open during Eid-ul-Adha were the major two causes for mob-violence[12].

After independence of India

After 1947 Par­ti­tion of In­dian sub­con­ti­nent into India and Pak­istan, there happen to freuent riots broke over cow slaugh­ter in India. In a span of four years from1948 to 1951, cow slaugh­ter alone led to riots in Aza­m­garh, Akola, Pilb­hit, Katni, Nag­pur, Ali­garh, Dhubri, Delhi and Calcutta (Govind Sadashiv Ghurye,1968)[13].

Riots erupted due to the reason that there was slaugh­ter of cows con­tin­ued in many locations of India between 1950s and 1960s (Govind Sadashiv Ghurye,1968)[14]. Ian Cop­land et al. (2013)[15] explains that it was prac­ti­cally a full stop for cow sac­ri­fice rit­ual in Is­lamic fes­ti­vals after 1947.

How­ever, the riots re-surfaced during 1960s, when a new gen­er­a­tion of Mus­lims born reached ado­les­cence, who were not aware of the re­li­gious vi­o­lence during 1940s, who began to as­sert their rights.

Hindu Monks to Parliament

Hindu sad­hus (monks) gath­ered in Delhi and protested against cow slaugh­ter, who also launched cow pro­tec­tion ag­i­ta­tion and placed a de­manded for a ban. Dur­ing a huge pro­ces­sion to reach the par­lia­ment, some peo­ple dis­tur­bed and ri­ot­ing started (Indrani Jagjivan Ram,2010)[16].

Mob violence leading to mob lynching of mostly innocent people creating public disorder from January 2011 and June 2017 shows that violence relating cows has increased melodramatically from the lowest of five per cent to over 20 per cent.

Types of Mob-lynching

Mob-Lynching based on the causes can be classified into five types. They are:
  • Communal based
  • Witchcraft
  • Honour killing
  • Bovine-related mob lynching
  • Suspicion of Child lifting
  • Theft cases

Communal based
Historically caste violence against Dalits are being held with some pretext or the other which often include Mob-lynching, however, in general such cases are under-reported or dismissed in the investigation itself.

The barbaric caste system which is embedded in the very Vedic literatures gives a fillip to commit such atrocities.

Witchcraft
Mob-lynching resulting deaths based on witch-hunting is alarming and shocking in themselves. One report indicate that 2,097 such murders were committed between 2000 and 2012 in at least 12 states[17].

Honour Killing

The terms honour killings and honour crimes are the incidents of criminal violence and committed against the young couple planning to marry or married with out the concern of the family members or community. Al Jazeera, Kavita Krishnan, the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA)[18] defined as the "violence to prevent a eligible woman from exercising her choice either in love or marriage.

The apex court ruling on honour crimes based violence can be linked to the following situations: (i) virginity lost before marriage; (ii) pregnancy of pre-marriage (iii) infidelity; (iv) unapproved relationships; (v) refusing arranged marriage; (vi) demanding divorce; (vii) demanding custody of children after divorce; (viii) deserting family or marital home without permission; (ix) causing scandal or gossip in the community, and (x) falling victim to rape[19]. The Apex court has issued a detailed guidelines to prevent, manage the Mob-Lynching (Annexure-I).

Bovine-related mob lynching

Though the origin of this Bovine based mob-lynching is communal, however, Bovine issues based Mob-Lynching between 2010 and 2017 were reported to be glaring numbers of 63. Which is the creation of cow protection squads and restrictions on beef trade.

Mob-Lynching on suspicion of Child lifting

Death By Rumours- 20 Mob Attacks In 72 Hours Laws on mob violence in India There is currently no special provision or law to punish mob lynching or hate violence in India but there are some other provisions to prevent such violence.

Lynching on theft cases

Mob resort to lynching of the accused for many reasons, may be due to theft of domestic animals, jewelleries, house burglary etc. A 28-year-old person was beaten to death in a small village in Tinsukia district of Assam by a mob which suspected him to be a cow thief. Police have arrested 12 people in this connection[20].

West Bengal Lynching Case (June 26, 2017, Durgapur)[21]: On Saturday, Barely two days before muslim festival Eid, three youths belonging to Muslim were lynched in Durgapur village, West Bengal, by a mob of cow vigilantes on the suspicion of cow theft. Lynching Case at Guwahati: A mob lynched two men in Nagaon district of Assam, on suspicion of cattle theft.

This case appears to be the first case where Gau Rakshaks involved. Lynching Case at Harpur: Two muslims Qasim (45) and Shamiuddin (65) were lynched by a mob on mere rumours of cow slaughter. A video showing both were lying in a pool of blood and men from the mob were shouting at them for attempting cow slaughter. Lynching Case at Alwar: Man lynched to death on suspicion of being cow smuggler from Ramgarh in Alwar district of Rajasthan.

In Jharkhand, a 27-year-old man named Mubarak Khan was allegedly beaten to death on suspicion of bike theft under Angara police station limits. Police reported that Mubarak Khan was beaten to death by the mob when he was trying to steal the battery and wheels of a Pulsar bike in Sirka Village[22].

IPC on Mob-Violence
22 Section 223A of the CRPC provides for criminal prosecution. Crowds involved in similar crimes can be prosecuted together. Promotion of animosity between different groups on the basis of religion, caste, place of birth, place of residence, language, etc. and to maintain harmony as per 12A in some related provisions of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C) 190 also.

Parliament to enact a special law

In view of the growing number of mob lynchings in India, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Deepak Mishra and Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. A three-judge bench of Chandrachud also asked Parliament to enact a special law to address the problems posed by the vigilance squads.

Supreme Court upholds Tehseen Punawala vs. Union of India and Others issued disciplinary, remedial and preventive guidelines in the case of mob lynching and urged Parliament to enact legislation in this regard. In addition, all state governments should appoint Assistant Police Officers in each district and take steps to prevent lynching. Indicates immediate identification of districts, subdivisions and areas where incidents of mob violence and lynching have been reported in recent times.

An FIR has been registered under the relevant provisions of the law against persons who spread false messages. Register and ensure that no harassment occurs in front of the victim's family and cases of lynching and mob violence must be clearly heard in each district by a designated court / fast track court for that purpose within a maximum of six months. And the accused shall be given a maximum punishment.

Mob-Lynching over the weaker people

Mob lynching is not a separate crime in India, so the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not collect data on such violence in its annual report. Muslims, dalits and minorities who have been victims of mob lynching are usually involved in transportation or in the business of dead animals. So they are economically very backward. Being backward, they are often attacked by powerful and high people. This has a profound effect on the victims and their families.

Because they are financially deprived, they remain unaware of their constitutional rights. Then in the steps suggested by the Supreme Court in which the appointment of a special officer to investigate matters relating to mobility in each district, the hearing of the case in the fast track court and without delay the A.I.R. To register. To compensate the victims and impose maximum punishment on the accused and to take action against any officer who fails to comply with the instructions for swift action on the crime of mob violence and lynching and to take action up to suspension.

Fast track court for mob-lynching cases

The designated court / fast track court shall explicitly complete the hearing within a maximum of six months. And the accused shall be given a maximum punishment.

The apex court has issued notices to the Center and the Human Rights Commission, along with 10 states accused of not complying with its guidelines issued last year to curb mob lynchings. The states which have been hit with the notice include Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Delhi.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed the order on a petition filed by the Anti-Corruption Council of India. The court had in July 2013 issued guidelines to curb mob violence. The apex court had directed the senior police officer of the district to be made the nodal officer as well as to identify the districts and villages where mob violence had taken place

States like Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have some of the most horrific instances of mob violence, with no police or court cases. In contrast, the evidence collected by India Spend suggests that during this period, there were only eight incidents of cow-related violence in the English news media.

Political debate is imperative
For a well-informed political debate, it is imperative that we understand the contexts and motives of these crimes. Accurate data is the essential baseline needed to track the occurrence of lynching. What will emerge will reveal a lack of feedback and accountability and enable the creation of meaningful institutional reform in action. In contrast, the evidence collected by India Spend suggests that during this period, there were only eight incidents of cow-related violence in the English news media.

Role of Police to reduce mob-Lynching
Instead of assessing abstract motivation, police officers may be asked to collect data on cow-protection, interfaith relations, child-abduction, violence linked to religious and national symbols. While the incidence of mob lynching has increased across the country in the last three years, those who believe it is morally and politically justified do not hesitate to take the law into their own hands. The actions of such people pose a great threat to the people of minority groups in the country.

By behaving as if there is no rule of law in the country, it creates a wave of fear in the country. To prevent and curb such violence, the rights enshrined in the Constitution should be further promoted and disseminated. When there are people with political backing thinks he is right and safe because when he commits a crime he thinks he is being punished. This activity helps to promote majority rule by suppressing the rights of minorities thus for a country like India where citizens are abusing their right to life.

Judicial hearings
Judicial hearings are very important for the country or for those who claim to be secular. Such incidents have not only happened in UP but also in Gujarat, Bihar, Bengal, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Jharkhand, Rajasthan etc. everywhere becoming The saying that the crowd does not have intelligence is incomplete. When a person does not have intelligence
Only then does he become part of the crowd. Only people without this intelligence are unfit to be in social life.

Continuum of Mob-Violence[23]
Heal (2000)[24] suggested a typology that organizes the crowds and mobs into subtypes, as given above. The behaviour of the group can be well understood by this figure.

Differences of Crowd and Mob
Heal (2000)[25] further suggested the differences between the crowd and a mob (Annexure –II).

Psychology of the Mob
Heal Sid (2000) has suggested that there are eight psychological factors that serve to either lower or remove against violent behaviour which facilitate individual inclination to participate in mob violence (Annexure-III).

Pathological normalcy
Carl Ratner well known cultural psychologist of America and Erich Fromm a social psychologist have analysed pathological normalcy of the mob. It be understood as pathological processes which is socially widespread wherein, mob lose their individual character and follow disturbed or unhealthy behaviour viz., display of irrational hatred, support of violence. Such persons usually find much to share with many other individuals of similarly unhealthy mentality.

In this kind of situation of an herd mentality. This can be explained with an example in Germany very large sections of the population during 1930s exhibited pervasive and extreme discrimination against Jews when the state endorsement of violence against them. In a country like ours where the rule of law should be resorted to, instead, if, the government machinery is partisan to the mob, naturally such mob-lynching/ violence would continue to rule the roof.

Causes for mob-lynching

In the recent wave of lynching exhibited across India, a combined effect of political, socio-economic, and psychological factors have lead a situation of hyper-reactivity among large population even in rural areas and small towns. These factors which instigated the people includes deep discontent and anger in rural youth populations due to the worsened crisis of agriculture and a bleak employment opportunities.

Add to this unruly activities, political interests have cultured an atmosphere of morose suspicion and hatred towards religious minorities who are perceived as outsiders, and being aggressively propagated through the social media. In many states, the ruling allowance has projected a sense of political freedom to vigilante groups who attack the minorities. So, Dictatorial power and truth are mutually exclusive, they can never travel to-gather, as has been shown in Germany in 1930s.

End-Notes:
  1. https://www.newindianexpress.com/specials/2018/jul/24/history-of-mob-lynching-and-attacks-by-cow-vigilantes-in-india-since-the-start-of-2017-1847858.html
  2. Mushirul Hasan and Asim Roy. 2005. Living Together Separately: Cultural India in History and Politics. Oxford University Press. pp. 132–133, 135–139, 143–145.
  3. Govind Sadashiv Ghurye.1968. Social tensions in India. Popular Prakashan. pp. 305–306.
  4. Barbara D. Metcalf; Thomas R. Metcalf . 2012. A Concise History of Modern India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 152–153.
  5. Judith E. Walsh.2006. A Brief History of India. Info base Publishing. pp. 161–162.
  6. Hardy,P .1972. The Muslims of British India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 140–141.
  7. Judith E. Walsh .2006. A Brief History of India. Info base Publishing. pp. 161–162.
  8. John R. McLane.2015. Indian Nationalism and the Early Congress. Princeton University Press. pp. 314–315
  9. John R. McLane.2015. Indian Nationalism and the Early Congress. Princeton University Press. pp. 314–315.
  10. Gene R. Thursby .1975. Hindu-Muslim Relations in British India: A Study of Controversy, Conflict, and Communal Movements in Northern India 1923-1928. BRILL Academic. pp. 80–83.
  11. Nitish K. Sengupta .2011. Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib. Penguin. pp. 347–348.
  12. Nitish K. Sengupta .2011. Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib. Penguin. pp. 347–348.
  13. Govind Sadashiv Ghurye .1968. Social tensions in India. Popular Prakashan. pp. 313–314.
  14. Govind Sadashiv Ghurye .1968. Social tensions in India. Popular Prakashan. pp. 335–344.
  15. Ian Copland., Ian Mabbett., Asim Roy., Kate Brittlebank and Adam Bowles.2013. A History of State and Religion in India. Routledge. pp. 237–239.
  16. Indrani Jagjivan Ram .2010. Milestones: A Memoir. Penguin Books. pp. 215–218
  17. National Crime Records Bureau report-2015
  18. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/women-demand-freedom-not-surveillance/
  19. https://www.justice.gov/eoir/page/file/1290791/download
  20. https://www.indiatoday.in/crime/story/man-lynched-over-cow-theft-suspicion-in-assam-s-tinsukia-12-nabbed-1814269-2021-06-13
  21. https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-mob-lynching-7-instances-which-shook-india-2639925
  22. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/mar/14/27-year-old-killed-on-suspicion-of-bike-theft-in-second-lynching-in-a-week-in-jharkhand-2276464.html
  23. https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/17424_Chapter_8.pdf
  24. Heal Sid.2000. Crowds, Mobs and Nonlethal Weapons. Military Review, March/April (2000): 45–50.
  25. Heal Sid.2000. Crowds, Mobs and Nonlethal Weapons. Military Review, March/April (2000): 45–50.

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