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…and the lynching continues

The Lynching of yet another Muslim to death in Bihar manifestly shows that the life is becoming tougher for Muslims in India. The 55-year old man identified as Kabul Mian was mercilessly beaten to death in Bihar’s Ariara district by a frenzied mob of over 300 extremists. The incident took place in the last week of December 29 in Simarbani village, which is about 300 km from Pata where a man identified as Kabul Miyan a former village head was brutally beaten in the face and thrashed using sticks until he laid lifeless on the ground. He was lynched on the accusations of cow theft. In the video run by NDTV, the attackers could be heard laughing while thrashing the victim despite his repeated pleas and begging that he had no reason to steal anybody’s cattle. The mob also removed the victim’s pants as they mercilessly thrashed him till he breathed his last. “Cow-related crimes” have become a handy weapon for zealots and communal forces to catch and kill Muslims. In fact, Muslims can be attacked and killed on any flimsy ground. The excuse could be—carrying beef, eating beef, smuggling or stealing cow. If a Muslim is neither beef eater nor a cow smuggler he could then definitely be a “child lifter”. Some time back a lynch mob beat to death a Muslim Mohammad Azam, a Hyderabad based techie who worked for Google, in Karnataka on the rumour of being a child-lifter.

Azam was on vacation with his three friends, Salham Eid Al Kubasi, a Qatari national and Noor Mohammad. A mob of some 2000 people gheraoed them at Thoul village in Bidi district and attacked them with rods and lathis. They were dragged out from the Toyota Innova and beaten up by the mob to death. The rage against them was engineered through WhatsApp message that they were child-lifters.

Lynching Muslims under one or the other pretext has become a norm in India. That the lynch has the patronage of the state and the ruling BJP can be understood from the fact that a minister in Narendra Modi’s  government Jayant Sinha garlanded and feted eight men convicted in the Ramgarh lynching case in Jharkhand after they were released on bail. India is losing its face in the eyes of international community as a country that has descended to medieval madness in targeting Muslims in particular and Dalits in general.

The common people and Indian civil society too have maintained criminal silence over the brutal incidents. Instead of recognising that a sickness is spreading through the society, the silence grows, revealing how most Hindus—instead of standing up and saying this must not happen in our name—either choose to be ignorant, find justifications or are complicit. Many have few qualms in saying this is what Muslims deserve. By now the lynching has become part of what is now known as the normalisation of hatred, the process of becoming immune or deadened to atrocity because there is so much of it. The creation of the new normal is well underway among those in India’s rightwing, which barely reacts to the killing of Muslims.

Over the past some time, the attacks by lynch mobs is not restricted to Muslims only. Many a Hindus belonging to lower sections of the society too have become the target of these extremists.  Innocent people are being beaten to death by angry mobs blinded by rage and powered by rumours of child-lifters circulating on social messaging platforms, that is, WhatsApp. Some time back when some Congress workers slaughtered a cow in Kerala, a hue and cry was made by the BJP people in and outside the power but when innocent people are lynched; they maintain criminal silence, more so, if the victim is a Muslim.

The snake of hatred is biting the community itself now. The savage killing of a Hindu police officer in Bulandshahar on the issue of “cow slaughter” is a case in point. This is making a new India where crime and criminals are seen through religious prism. This should be a matter of serious concern for all those who believe in multi-religious and multi-culture unity of India.