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Lynchings Wrong, Selective Outrage Equally Cringe Worthy

Protests were held across India against the mob attacks. (Network18)

Protests were held across India against the mob attacks. (Network18)

Let us be clear that lynch narratives in India are never secular.

Let us be clear that lynch narratives in India are never secular — they are impassioned and lopsided either one way or the other. This is why the discussion on Jantar Mantar protests cannot be done in isolation as a purely people's movement - for it may have begun as one but it is not anymore.

The problem with the world we inhabit today is polarisation. The issue is either pro or anti. Black or white. National or anti national. Secular or Communal.

The death of nuance is what pained me last night in the debate at Bhupendra Chaubey’s show Viewpoint on CNN-News18 when a recount of serial and systematic silence on brutal and heart rending cases of violence against non-Muslims was loudly interpreted as a vote justifying mob lynching of Muslims. The more such selective outrage happens, the clearer the various writings on the wall are.

You cannot talk logic and debate in a sustained fashion today, for the fear of uttering or writing something which is 'politically incorrect' - a term ideologically defined and defended by a group of elites in this country. Unfortunately, it has become imperative to wear an ideological cloak even while discussing moral questions, either because you have to defend selective secularism or because you have to expose the selective ideological amnesia and dementia. In the process, one may want to be as balanced as a weighing scale projecting two sides of the arguments, but one has to often choose 'touchy', 'politically incorrect', 'untouchable' issues for articulation. Balance can come only when there is equal and equitable, responsible and balanced articulation of reasons for and condemnation of all cases of human rights' violation, violence, rapes and riots.

There is of course no doubt that lynchings are inhuman, unfit as a marker of any human civilisation. And because all lynchings are wrong, the reportage of Muslims being killed by Hindus and Hindus being killed by 'some' people, in case the killers are Muslims, is as communal and targeted as lynchings themselves. For far too long narratives of organised hatred against the majority by the elite intellectuals and English media editors' guild in India have been defining a skewed and dangerous idea of secularism in this country.

Not everyone in this nation has the luxury of such incisive and piercing verbal articulation against violence or selective outrage. But their inability to capacitate the building of a verbose written or spoken narrative cannot be an impediment in a socialist democracy to dismiss their actions by a group of an entitled and intellectually elite mob.

A reaction can be and must be pulled out and called out for its socially debilitating ramifications. But a silence to even address the action which facilitated the reaction is as much a part of the lynch mob herd mentality. Unless we accept this reality, the facade of looking for solutions is optimistic hypocrisy.

I was expecting the 'organic' outburst of 'collective' anger at Jantar Mantar to protest against the recent humiliation of a Meghalayan woman by a part of this same English speaking colonial and feudal elite that has no qualms in calling a PM candidate unfit for his tea selling background.

I was expecting a protest against the murder of two males in the household of Kerala CM's home village and the pattern of lynch mob in Kerala. I was expecting a strong protest against Muslim lynch mobs who have brutally raped and murdered women in Hojai and Marghareita in Assam.

But I was expecting too much from the media perhaps who focused on Jantar Mantar and gave prime time slots to articulate what some elite groups comprising of some same faces who have made protests their way of overstaying their interests in Delhi.

Having said what I have said, I reiterate, all lynchings are wrong, abhorrent, a blot on humanity. And similarly cringe worthy is selective outrage. More pathetic is Congress-Communists clandestine combine that spills over its jugalbandi in such opportunistic free loading in protests like these.

(The author is assistant editor, India Foundation Journal, and project head, northeast operations. Views expressed are personal)

first published:June 29, 2017, 14:16 IST