Dr Kouser Fathima
The transition from the question ‘are we becoming an intolerant society’ to ‘are we becoming a lawless society’ is becoming alarmingly rapid. The killing of a man in Greater Noida on the basis of a rumour that he was possessing beef should be a wake-up alarm for all.
Rumour of possessing meat, rumour of a dead animal in a place of worship, rather, it seems, any rumour is enough to instigate a mob to go on a killing spree.
Looks like mobs are waiting to unleash terror without any fear because a mob is faceless and nameless. A mob has no identity, so anybody can be a part of a mob without any fear or guilt. Even worst is the fact that the world often watches silently while these mobs are busy killing people, thus giving it more power. Nobody dares stop the mob and now anybody can be lynched by them, based only on a rumour. This tells a lot about the new ground realities of our society.
The people who killed the man in a Greater Noida village seem to have not only been brainwashed but even more disturbing is they were not scared of the law, were sure that they would not be punished for their gruesome act. The fearlessness of the mob is scary.
But why be bothered: Hasn’t this been happening for ages? Now we are trying to project India as a developed and progressive nation, watched keenly by the world. We are the new India, digitalised and modern, wooing foreign investments and in return giving them some very brilliant and dynamic leaders and CEOs.
We are seen as an example of a progressive nation ready to take on the global leadership actively. Timing seems perfect to emerge as a growing economic power but, alas, all this is only gloss and the reality is frightening. We are not only becoming an intolerant nation but also one with scant respect for the law of the land. In India, it is easier to be punished for jumping a traffic signal than, say mob violence. Welcome to the new digitalised India, where one can be killed on the basis of rumours.
We may go globetrotting trying to paint a perfect picture of India, but the harsh truth can’t be hidden from the world media. Due to the internet and growing power of the social media it is difficult for incidents like Noida lynching to be silently buried. And the world is ever ready to hear about such incidents, no amount of PR or cover-up by media will help.
It is time to face the reality and, more importantly, take action before it is too late. We regularly laugh, criticise and condemn other nations for their intolerance and failure to protect their minority population, but now we will be similarly questioned and ridiculed. Oh, yeah, our situation is not as bad as theirs, but it may not take long before we reach their low standards.
Indian media, which is so obsessed with the murder of a rich lady, spent days trying to question the motives of the murder. It needs to wake up to harsher realities of the society. One has hardly seen the media discuss the mentality of a mob, reasons why and how these people get transformed into a group ready to kill.
Is it just due to the hatred imbibed in them or the lack of fear of the law that gives them the courage to carry out such attacks openly? These may be stray incidents blamed on fringe elements, but that is no assurance that these fringe elements will one day not become part of the mainstream. Growing intolerance can be rectified, but growing lawlessness will not be easy to control.
Many people feel that such incidents had been happening for years and got settled on their own. But now, with increased access to news and the ease with which it can be spread, the situation can become dangerous. Technology has made it easier to spread rumours and fake photoshopped pictures instigating people, leading to backlash and violence more often.
Look at some of the developed countries. Fear of the law is a basic reason for the security and peace of those nations. Seldom do we hear about people taking law into their hands and going on a killing spree. Rather, even in the worst of cases they display tremendous respect, and fear, for the law.
Contrast the situation with many banana republics, where the ones with might and power control the law like in a feudal society. Now, we need to decide what we want our future to be? Until and unless the law enforcing agencies work with an iron hand to curb these elements the future looks bleak and scary.
A society marred by violence and instability can never progress. It is a bitter truth that needs to be understood. One stray incident may be brushed under the carpet, but how long will it take to recur? Today it happened to someone else, but tomorrow you or I could be the victim? The situation can become worse if violent incidents go unreported and criminals unpunished.
NOTE: Views expressed are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse any of the views, facts, incidents mentioned in this piece.