June 28, 2017

India: Lynch culture must be condemned - Editorial, Deccan Herald

Deaccan Herald - June 28 2017


Lynch culture must be condemned

The killing of a Muslim teenager in a train from Delhi to Mathura last week is yet another indic­ation that a lawless lynch culture is taking hold in the country and it is targeted against minorities and other vulnerable sections. The boy, Junaid Khan, was returning to his village with his brothers after Eid shopping in Delhi and their appearance was enough to provoke a group to abuse them and attack them. They were taunted as beef-eaters, anti-nationals and Pakistanis, and humiliated. The boy was fatally stab­bed and thrown out of the train. His brothers too were attacked. Beating or killing of people on the pretext that they were engaged in sale and purchase of cattle has taken place in many states in recent months. The victims have been either Muslims or Dalits and the lynchings have happened in BJP-ruled states.

Junaid Khan’s killing shows that Muslims are targets of attacks even without the cows. It was, in fact, clear that all the talk of cow protection was an excuse, and harassment and persecution of members of the minority community was the aim behind the zealous imple­mentation of cow protection laws and slaughterhouse rules. It is a fearful thought that anyone who looks like a Muslim or does not belong to the majority group, dresses and talks differently or eats other kinds of food, can be attacked for being who they are or what they do. The law is not allowed to take its course in such situations. It has been slow in all similar cases of mob attacks till now. No witness has come forward to describe what happened to Junaid Khan in the train. There are no witnesses either in the train or the railway platform. Officials have said they were not present there and no follow-up action was taken.

The Haryana government took three days to respond to the killing and made a routine announcement of compensation. The Union home secretary said lynchings were “routine in the country and are hyped now.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not found it necessary to condemn or to mention any of these killings in his tweets or talks or on any occasion. Such criminal silence amounts to approval or at least lack of disapproval, and that only encour­ages those who take the law into their hands. There are some who even defend such excesses and killings in public. But the government has a constitutional duty and the BJP has a political responsibility to the people in a democratic society. The nation will have to pay a heavy price for their conduct and attitudes in future.