Don’t Take Law Into Your Hands
A spine-chilling incident occurred in Jharkhand about a week ago, where a young Muslim man was lynched by a group of people merely on the suspicion that the bike he was riding was a stolen one. He was tied to an electric pole and beaten mercilessly for hours before he was handed over to the police in an unconscious state. What is worse is that the men in uniform instead of questioning the people for lynching the helpless man and providing immediate medical aid charged him for theft and detained him. He was taken to a nearby hospital only when his condition deteriorated and when his relatives hearing of the incident arrived and rushed him to the main hospital where he was pronounced brought dead. There were two other friends with the man, but they fled to safety or else they too would have met the same fate. It has been reported that they are still missing. Five men from the village have been arrested and two policemen have been suspended. It is worth stating that this is not a case in isolation but such brutal acts do keep surfacing on and off in our country. We have stressed several times that no one has the authority to take law in his hands and act in a devilish manner. Even in our own state we hear of warring groups assuming that they are law unto themselves and attacking others. In a recent incident when a SUV vehicle from the neighbouring state dashed a car and killed the father and son, some locals gathered and alleging that it was a case of drunken driving set the SUV on fire with the police arriving on the scene much later. If the inmates of the SUV were not to run for safety even they would have been mercilessly lynched or even killed. We no doubt fully condemn rash and negligent driving but also denounce the callousness of people arrogating power unto them and acting with total impunity. Whatever be the gravity of the crime the correct course of action is to bring the matter to the notice of the authorities. Both the public and the police should be enlightened on this point. In particular at the school level itself the students should be educated on this subject.
MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES
Stop This Vigilante Justice
A 24-year-old Muslim man, an alleged motorcycle thief, was mercilessly beaten by some sadists, forcing him to repeatedly shout ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’. He was taken to the police station, where he was locked up without being given first aid. He succumed to the injuries when he was taken to the hospital. Two policemen have been suspended, and a SIT has been formed to look into the lynching. There has been a phenomenal rise in lynchings ever since gau rakshak came on the scene. In fact a Union minister had garlanded gau rakshaks booked and thereafter released. This obsession with slogans reminds me of the recent swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected MPs in Parliament. Protocol was thrown to the winds and shouts of ‘Jai Sri Ram’ reverberated in the Parliament; slogans were not chanted reverently but to taunt non-majority members taking the oath. The country has overwhelmingly reposed its faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised ‘sab ka vishwas’. The televised debates on this issue bring out the subtle hate element in replies of the BJP spokespersons, who recall cases of lynchings of Hindus by Muslims. It is pertinent to note here that the Supreme Court had asked for a specific law on lynching, but this order has been ignored by politicians. It is the duty of those in power to stop this lawlessness! Unless the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah stop this vigilante justice, there will be dangerous cyclical consequences.
JOHN ERIC GOMES, PORVORIM
No Respite From Hate Crimes
WHETHER the assessment of the US state department as regards religious freedom in India is correct or not can be best gauged by news reports from 2014 till date! Lynchings of Muslim have been taking place in regular intervals in Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and other states. Less said about atrocities on Dalits the better with the Una incident being one of the worst hate crimes. Not to forget the free flow of hate speech coming from various saffron Chief Ministers, Governors, ministers and BJP leaders. And just take a look at the ‘brilliant’ start of the second innings of the ‘good days’ regime. Lynchings have been witnessed in Madhya Pradesh; a poor Muslim has been shot at Bihar’s Begusarai with the diktat of ‘go to Pakistan’; a youth in Haryana has been beaten up for wearing skullcap! While a Hindu doctor somehow escaped the wrath of the ‘nationalists’ in New Delhi by uttering ‘Jai Sri Ram’ as demanded, no such luck was there for a group of Muslims in Assam’s Barpeta who were severely thrashed for refusing to bow to their diktat. And now comes the chilling story of the murder of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand, who was forced to chant the Hindu slogans ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’. What is the relationship between his alleged theft and the demand from him to chant the slogans? Does it imply that Ansari had been tortured to death just because he was a Muslim? Let us suppose what the USA says is false and baseless. Let us reject the report. But what do the hard reality and conscience of India say? Does the reality say “all is well”? People at the helm of the nation should at least refrain from boasting how international community looks up to India. The US might be ‘wrong’ as being zealously claimed, but it does not reflect the ‘great’ image of India at the international level. Instead of trying to sweep all ills of India under the ‘nationalist’ carpet, it is high time the NDA regime initiated strong steps to eliminate supreme intolerance in the name of religion. The Centre should direct the BJP-ruled states, where maximum cases of intolerance and violence take place, to spare a bit of time to govern as well. Human rights should get precedence over temples statues, religion and ‘gomata’.
KAJAL CHATTERJEE, KOLKATA