After being relegated to the margins of society for decades as an aberration, mob lynchings have turned into a terrifying mainstream social reality in India over the past few years. Full-blown, virulent, unapologetic and indiscriminate, the lynchings are exposing India’s socio-cultural and socio-religious fabric for its deeply frayed condition — a condition whose diagnosis is as urgent as is its treatment.
While the apologists for these attacks suggest they are the result of a few social malcontents, their increasing frequency and ferocity punches many holes in the theory. The hundreds of people across India who have been lynched to death accused of being child lifters, child traffickers, beef eaters or cow traders cannot all have been victims of random fate. To treat them as such would be to give free rein to the power of suspicion, righteousness or political expediency to wreak havoc in society.
The many calls for stricter laws, punishments, fast-track courts to deliver justice to victims of mob attacks and their families and even suggestions for a data base of mob lynchings to gain a more informed view of their genesis — all these have their value as potentially preventive mechanisms.
But the most effective antidote to this virulence is with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Its sincere acknowledgement of the spreading intolerance afflicting many sections of society, rather than the nearly inaudible response so far, will be the first step in combating this issue, followed by a real attempt to foster a sense of security and safety for every citizen of the country: From every denomination of society and economic rung.
Anything less will not work.