Too slow

One would have expected time to be of essence when it comes to tackling the menace of lynching that has so shamed the nation. But the procrastination of 19 states on the matter in spite of an unambiguous directive in July from no less than the Supreme Court to issue guidelines to curb the offence raises serious questions. Are the sedate legislators indicating that the lynching of minorities by hoodlums, ostensibly in the name of cow protection, ought to be accepted by a civilized and democratic polity? What about the rule of law then? Should that, too, bend to the mob's wishes? The apex court, while taking note of the apathy of the executive, has made it clear that it expects compliance. It has stated that home secretaries would be summoned on charges of contempt if their respective states failed to act within the stipulated time after receiving the judicial rap on their knuckles.

  • Published 12.09.18
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One would have expected time to be of essence when it comes to tackling the menace of lynching that has so shamed the nation. But the procrastination of 19 states on the matter in spite of an unambiguous directive in July from no less than the Supreme Court to issue guidelines to curb the offence raises serious questions. Are the sedate legislators indicating that the lynching of minorities by hoodlums, ostensibly in the name of cow protection, ought to be accepted by a civilized and democratic polity? What about the rule of law then? Should that, too, bend to the mob's wishes? The apex court, while taking note of the apathy of the executive, has made it clear that it expects compliance. It has stated that home secretaries would be summoned on charges of contempt if their respective states failed to act within the stipulated time after receiving the judicial rap on their knuckles.

It is a shame that legislators are unmoved by the ground reality. Official figures state that nearly 50 people were killed in over 40 such attacks between May 2014 and April 2018, the majority of which have taken place after the political baton passed on to the Bharatiya Janata Party. But lethargy is not the only issue. Some of the recommendations of an anti-lynching panel - they have been submitted for ministerial deliberations - merit closer scrutiny because there seems to be an unmistakable urge to deflect the blame on to the social media. So much so that one of the suggestions, apart from the tightening of laws, is that first information reports ought to be filed against the country heads of social media platforms for their failure to take steps against malicious content. But what of the accountability of politicians, some of whom are brazen enough to honour the accused publicly? There is also mounting evidence of the line separating the politician from the provocateur being blurred. Rajasthan - it has a BJP government - may have implemented the highest court's directive but it has, tellingly, invested shadowy organizations with the power to conduct search and seizure operations against suspected cow-smugglers. Is not supervision the job of the impartial law-keeper? Or should New India now be placed under the watch of the vigilante? These conflations, between the government and the ideologue, the breaker of law and its keeper, need to be addressed too. Only then would India rid itself of lynchings that are the result of such connivance.

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