The recent murders of Muslim men by communal lynch mobs in Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand over rumours of ‘cow slaughter’ are the latest in the spate of such killings that have become the single most recognizable hallmark of Modi Rule.
In Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, Qasim was beaten to death on the pretext of ‘cow protection’. A video has emerged showing a dying Wasim begging for water even as the mob around him claimed to have prevented the slaughter of a calf. Another video shows a mob assaulting a senior citizen Samiuddin at the same place, forcing him to admit he slaughtered cows. These videos call the bluff of the UP Police which has been claiming that the incident was a result of ‘road rage’ not a hate crime against Muslims.
The most shocking image of all shows uniformed personnel of the Uttar Pradesh police casually escorting a mob that is dragging Qasim’s body as though it were the carcass of an animal. The UP police, apologizing for the “insensitive” action of its personnel, however claims the police allowed the mob to drag Qasim in the absence of an ambulance, because they urgently wanted to carry the injured man to a hospital. This “apology” is an insult to our intelligence. What training protocol teaches policemen that the correct way to carry severely injured persons is to drag their bodies on the ground?
Another recent incident exposes the communalized character of the UP police under Yogi Adityanath. A meat seller Salim Qureshi (Munna) was picked up by two police constables in Bareilly, UP on June 14 from his home on allegations that he had sold beef. They took him to a private wedding hall where they beat him up severely. He died of his injuries at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on June 21, 2018. This was nothing but a custodial communal lynching by Yogi’s police. This incident also reminds us of how the UP police arrested the father of the Unnao rape victim and beat him to death in custody.
Meanwhile in Jharkhand, two Muslim men Sirajuddin Ansari and Murtaza Ansari were lynched to death by a mob at Godda, which claimed the two men were part of a gang that had stolen buffaloes. In another incident, another Muslim man Tauhid Ansari was beaten to death on suspicion of carrying beef in Ramgarh. The Jharkhand police is of course blaming the victims and accusing them of being cow-smugglers.
The response of the ruling BJP reveals, not for the first time, the political support that emboldens communal mobs in Modi’s India. The Godda BJP MP Nishikant Dubey announced that he would bear the legal expenses of the four accused in the Godda lynching case! Such support for communal killers by the RSS and BJP is nothing new: BJP Central Ministers, MPs and MLAs expressed open support for the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riot and rape cases; a Minister in Modi’s cabinet attended the funeral of one of the accused in the Dadri lynching, where the man’s body was draped in the Indian national flag; in Udaipur, the Sangh outfits held a violent bandh in support of the man who set a Muslim man on fire in a videotaped act of terrorism; and of course, BJP MLAs marched in defence of the rape-murder accused of Kathua.
Overwhelmingly the victims of the mob lynchings have been Muslims and Dalits. In this vitiated climate, where organised peddling of inflammatory communal fake news and instigation not only on social media but even on influential television channels and newspapers has become the norm, it is inevitable that lynchings are growing. All over the country, people are being lynched following rumours of “child-snatching.”
In 2016, Modi belatedly spoke up on the subject of lynchings by cow-goons, making a distinction between “genuine” and “fake” cow-protectors. This distinction is spurious because elected representatives of the BJP are openly justifying the so-called “fake” cow-goons and offering them legal and moral support!
As India approaches closer to the 2019 elections, and the Modi Government and various BJP state governments are in the dock for their utter failure and betrayal on all fronts, it is clear that the BJP and RSS are resorting to an intensification of communal polarisation and violence in a last desperate bid to somehow cling on to power. It is imperative that every movement of the various sections of people – farmers, workers, women, students and youth, Dalits – all expose and alert people against these tactics even as they hold the Government accountable to their rights and concerns. In every village and town, Indians must organise against lynch mobs, alerting each other against inflammatory rumours and training youth to resist such hate and violence.