Gau Rakshaks and Mob Justice

The coming of BJP to power at the Center led to a sharp increase in mob lynching. Victims of these crimes are largely Muslims and Dalits. The anti-Dalit and the anti-Muslim stand of the BJP succeeded not only in the Lok Sabha election but in most of the state assembly elections too. The BJP’s tactic after coming to power is to not involve itself directly in violence. It has relegated this task to the far-right organisations which are all allied to their common father,  the RSS. Such organisations like Gau Rakhaks, Hindu Yuva Vahini or Bajrang Dal, are high on terror and employ violent methods to create hatred and hostility towards the minorities and the backward communities. Among these organisation, Gau Rakshaks have emerged as a most violent organisation with the aim to protect cow which is considered holy by Hindus. This violence has resulted in maximum deaths due to the mob lynching in recent months.

The current wave started with the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq in September, 2015 at Dadri near Delhi. The mob dragged Akhlaq out of his house and thrashed him to death claiming that he had beef in his fridge. Similarly in April, 2016 the body of Mustain of Saharanpur, missing since March 6, was found in Kurukshetra. His father, Tahir Hasan, accused four Gau Rakshak Dal members for his murder. Recently, the case of Pehlu Khan dominated the mainstream media when he was lynched in Alwar, Haryana. Pehlu Khan was transporting cattle for his dairy business when a mob charged upon him accusing him of cow slaughter. A common denominator in all these lynchings is that though chargesheets have been filed and some arrests made but the trial has yet to start.

Along with the Muslim minority, Dalits have also been dragged into mob lynching in the name of cow slaughter. Thirty five Gau Rakshaks attacked seven Dalits in Una, Gujarat, accusing them of slaughtering cows in July, 2016. The victim, Balu Sarvaiya, a 46-year-old resident of Mota Samadhiyala village in Una taluka, and some of his family members were skinning the carcass of a dead cow when they were attacked by the criminals. Later the Dalits were dragged to the Una town where they were publicly flogged. Cases related to mob lynching are common for other causes too. Recently, on 18 May, Naeem, a resident of Ghatsila in East Singhbhum district, was passing through Sobhapur early in the morning when the villagers lynch Naeem thinking him to be a child abductor following a rumor on Whatsapp.

There as some common characteristsics in all these crimes:

  1. The cases occur in states which are ruled by the BJP;
  2. Arrests are sometimes made and charges filed, but the trial does not start.
  3. In every case of mob lynching, there is a rumour spread through social media or orally within before the violence erupts;
  4. The most obvious fact remains that the victims of lynching are always Muslims or Dalits.

Such events of mob lynching have not only segregated different communities but there is a hostility that is evident in affected towns and villages. People from the Muslim minority or the persecuted classes remain under fear of violence by dominating upper castes. The verbal and physical attacks on the minorities and the backward classes have the support of the voters as seen the the results of the recent state assembly elections. The BJP has come to power in almost two thirds of Indian states as a result of these tactics. People from the upper castes and classes show an indifference to these attacks.

The emergence of Gau Rakshaks was a sort of trial made by BJP to check whether the implementation of the ultra-right ideology and violent means would prove successful for the party in the near future. The BJP has reaped success after success as a result of these criminal activities. The party’s landslide victory in UP polls further encouraged the Gau Rakshaks.