Young Junaid was out shopping for Eid. On his way back home, he was stabbed to death on a local train. Junaid was a muslim. He was mocked for his faith. His skull cap was trampled upon. Finally he was stabbed, thrown out of the train. He died in his brother’s arm at Ballabhgarh station along Delhi Mathura line.
Was Junaid killed because he was a muslim? Or a fight over seating space in a crowded local train turned violent leading to tragic loss of life? Reports have appeared of extremely crowded railway compartments where people jostle for seating room. Where frayed temper is more a norm than exception. Could this have been the reason for Junaids murder, where his minority status was flaunted as an insurance against a brazen act? It is not unusual in this part of the country where people move around in groups and pick fight with the perceived weakest prey.
Of late, many incidences of mob lynching of muslim men have come to light. It started with beating and subsequent death of Pehlu Khan. Subsequently, several such instances have been reported in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Coincidentally, all these states are ruled by BJP.
Data has emerged that between 2010 and 2017, 28 people have lost their lives in mob violence. Of which, 24 (87%) are muslim men and 97% of such incidences have happened after Modi lead government took charge at the cente. This data has been quoted by all main stream news papers. This data was invoked in televised debates.
Protests, under the name #Not in my name, were organised in different cities of India. Civil society groups, media houses, and journalists vocalised, spread and participated in the protest against mob lynching of muslims. Common citizens, students and left leaning political groups also participated.
Supporters of government believed that protests were organised as an effort ot embarrass Modi government, that was celebrating its achievements after its three years government. Others commented that the protests were selective in nature. Because, killing of Hindus, read right wing cadres of RSS and BJP, in opposition ruled Kerala and West Bengal did not find mention in the protest.
Questions have been asked of the veracity of data and validity of Varshney Wilkinson data and conclusion arrived thereof. Because, data covers only reports that appeared in English language news papers. Did English language news papers start to record incidence of lynching only after Mr. Modi took charge? What happens to reports in vernacular language papers? Vernacular language have a far greater reach and cover loacl issues in much greater detail compared to English language dailies? Why reports in such dailies were ignored?
BJP as a party has distanced itself from the acts of vigilantism in the name of a cow. Prime Minister had condemned the act. In an interview last week, Mr Nitin Gadkari said every criminal act of lynching and every irresponsible statement of cow vigilantes cannot be attributed to BJP. After all, no senior member of parliamentary board has endorsed such a view.
Problem is probably exactly that. No member has spoken at the right moment condemning the incidence strongly enough. Such a silence has been construed as endorsement by vigilantes. At no moment I am denying that equally large number of crazy people also exist among other communities. A case in point being recent riot in West Bengal’s Basirhat district. It is also true, many lynching deaths involving Hindus are not reported. Still a government must work towards maintaining law and order in the country. That is why they are elected. Corruption free governance and crime free governance are not mutually exclusive. One phone call from prime Minister and home minister should be enough to enforce law and order by state governments. If not, probably government has lost moral authority to govern.