Mobocracy’s untamed fury claimed one more victim recently. Debashish Gogoi, a 22-year-old B.Sc final semester student and his friend Aditya Das (also 22) were beaten up at Gabharu Parbat locality near Mariani in Jorhat district. Gogoi succumbed to his injuries, which made headlines everywhere.
What led to the incident, which killed a young man?
The two men from Nakachari were returning home on a two-wheeler. Their vehicle skid, hitting a couple of women, both plantation workers. Moments after this happened, tea garden workers reached the spot and thrashed them without pity. What merits a repetition is that Gogoi died.
This was the second incident of lynching in Assam within a week of each other. Sanatan Deka, a vegetable vendor was beaten to death by five people. Deka’s bicycle had hit a two-wheeler in Kamrup district’s Hajo, leading to the incident,
Both these episodes are heartbreaking tragedies. That said, mob lynching in India doesn’t shock us any longer. Delivery of ‘justice’ by a crowd gone mad has become increasingly common in recent years.
The Palghar lynching incident in Maharashtra is fresh in our minds. Two Juna Akhara sadhus, Sushilgiri Maharaj (35) and Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70) and their driver Nilesh Telgade (30) were travelling for the purpose of attending a funeral in Surat.
When their vehicle was stopped at the local checking point in Gadchinchale, around 150 km north of Mumbai, a vigilante group of villagers reportedly mistook them for child thieves and organ harvesters and attacked them. What happened because of the hate crime is known to all of us.
The Palghar mob lynching led to widespread reactions. The police present on the spot was hugely criticised for negligence on duty. Some opportunists tried everything they could to give a communal colour to the incident, which was inevitable because akhara seers had been lynched.
The incident was a tragic reminder that hate crimes masterminded by mobs continue to occur from time to time. In exactly the same way, the lynching of Debashish Gogoi and Sanatan Deka brings a clichéd saying to mind. History repeats itself.
Reams of newsprint and endless hours of heated debates on the television have focused on cow protectors who have worn the badge of machismo and religious fanaticism while going on a rampage. Many cow-related incidents have taken place in Uttar Pradesh ruled by the firebrand nationalist Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, an indication of how religious majoritarianism has strengthened its grip in recent years.
Cases of mob lynching tell us what a group that turns violent can do. It makes for despairing reading.
Most people who constitute such groups may not be indulging in assaults of any kind in their day-to-day lives. At the same time, they must be bitter and frustrated deep within. They aren’t likely to be suitably employed either.
These perpetrators itch to do something that seems exciting in a destructive sort of way. Indulging in mob lynching is their vengeance against a system that has failed them. What they do not realise is that their action hurts and kills individuals who aren’t, in any possible way, responsible for their problems.
People forming part of such groups are confident about turning aggressive because they feel secure about escaping punishment. Being one among many turns one into a faceless individual who can dissolve in the crowd while assaulting his victim with mindless brutality.
Life for the underprivileged is a struggle without a comma. The need to find food and a never-ending search for affordable healthcare is among the many concerns for millions. Some people from this strata can be misguided into constituting a group that is out to disrupt the smooth functioning of the society they resent deep within.
When an act of lynching results in a death, a family somewhere loses a precious somebody. No such thought dissuades the lyncher for whom maiming the victim = and even killing him – is an eerily attractive thought. Such a person may not be able to commit aggression all alone. But then, where there is a crowd, there is power.