One of the most critical factors which define lynching is the state’s connivance in the mob murder of an individual. Unless the formal complicity of the state and the majority of civil society is established in the act of mob-murder, it does not qualify as lynching in common, modern parlance. If one were to use the term lightly, every crime, every killing in a riot, will be qualified to be termed as lynching.
This possibly explains the extensive misuse of the term since 2014. It serves the singular purpose of attacking the dual-target which the left and the Congress loves to attack, namely, the Narendra Modi government and the Hindu majority. When you term a mob-crime into lynching, it not only finds resonance in the West, it also, by definition, implicates the majority civil society of India, read Hindus and the Government of the day.
This explains why the term ‘lynching’ was not quite in fashion during 1984 riots when as per some allegations, voter lists were provided by the administration to mark the Sikh houses under instructions of the party in power, Congress and the state actively participated in the mass murders which left around 7000 Sikhs dead within a period of three days. In fact, the 1984 Sikh riots under the Congress was the closest thing that India saw, which resembled lynching, in the strictest sense. There were dead people, the state was a party, majority formed the mob, judiciary watched in stony silence.
Apart from implicitly targeting the Government and the Hindu-majority as the conniving criminals in these random and stray acts of violence, it offered the Leftist intellectual mobs a word which finds great resonance in the West. Therefore since 2014, there has been a sustained campaign to demonize the Hindu majority of India and the Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the left-leaning intellectual mob and the most-common words we find have been “fascism”, “Nazi” and “Lynching”.
While the history of World war, mass-killing by poor Jews by a racist Nazi government, explains the west’s known antipathy to anything even falsely termed Nazi, lynching too was a clever move. No one cares whether the random crimes, in a large nation with colonial-era policing, actually qualified to be called Lynching or not. In an agrarian economy like that of India, where cattle-raising is a big part of the economy as well as the majority religion, intellectuals offered cover to illegal cow slaughter and cattle smuggling. In most of the Indian states, cow slaughter is banned since long (was banned by Congress under Indira) as per directive principles of Indian constitution. Lack of faith in the police and the fear of the smugglers themselves has often forced mob violence. This gave another opportunity to the leftists to attach Hindus for their faith.
Some propagandists, like the Congress supporter and related to the first family of the Congress, Tahseen Poonawala even called some minor scuffle involving his driver as Lynching. As there was never any Government sanction or tacit support to this murderous crime, when they really happened, they did not qualify to be termed as lynching. Most of these deaths, unfortunate as they are, were only a representation of weaker law and order machinery. Selective outrages on the cases where victims were uniformly of one religion, while suppressing the equal or even higher number of cases involving Hindu victims from Dr Narang, Riya Gautam, Chandan, Kundan, Dhruv Tyagi, Mangru Pahan, Ankit, poor little child named Dimple, brutally raped and killed, so on and so forth (names hidden away from the global audience), helped creating an image for the west of a crime supported by civil majority and by implication a Hindu nationalist government (a term made popular by the vested interests in the West).
This would then perfectly fit in the lynching narrative which vilifies the democratically elected government and people who elected it both in a swift, singular brush of darkness. I always maintain, for the ChisIslamic left in India, it is more of a civilizational war rather than a political battle. Therefore there is always a violent and disproportionate reaction to any argument which tries to poke holes in this carefully-crafted narrative defining the land historically known as benign, benevolent and accepting as a land of cruel and crazy bigots.
It takes hard work for the opposition to go to the grounds, to the poor people, to fight for them and regain the faith of the people. The easier way for them to fight and win the battle somehow in the international arena by discrediting the people and government of India alike. Recently a lawyer from Congress cell also released a video, claiming that ‘in some of the cases of lynching’ people even died. As a lawyer of some prominence, she would know that it is termed as lynching only if there is a loss of life involved. When RSS chief, Shri Mohan Bhagwat termed lynching a non-Indian concept, and urged everyone to stop it, no wonder, instead of being appreciated, it caused outrage. It was like forcing the left to disarm in the middle of a battle. If you take away from the left the terms which the west understand and can be motivated to rally against, how do they create antipathy against a democratically elected government and a non-violent race?
Shri Mohan Bhagwat could be both right and wrong, depending on where we begin reading our history. But if we consider four defining factors for a lynching- a corpse, a complicit civil majority, socially-approved criminal action outside the purview of the legal framework and a conniving state- Mr Bhagwat was largely right. Sikh Gurus and their kins were lynched by Islamist Mughal rulers, so Corpse and a conniving state were there but a complicit civil majority probably was not there. Also, there was legality involved since those murders were carried out under the explicit instruction of the state, the Mughals at that time. Freedom fighter, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi was lynched in the pre-independence era in Kanpur by rioting Muslims when he went their neighbourhood trying to pacify people. But it was neither sanctioned by British state nor was extra-judicial sentencing. It was a crime committed by a rioting mob.
West has its own haunting history of Mob lynching and therefore appropriating the term for an act of crime is likely to cause global outrage. The term ‘Lynching’ originated in the US, during the American Revolution, and as a part of Racist, anti-negro pogrom. The term derives its name, in all likelihood from Virginia’s Charles Lynch (1736 to 1796) who allowed the extra-judicial killing of the negroes. The extra-judicial killings authorized by Charles Lynch were legitimized by the Virginia General Assembly in 1782, as Lynch’s Law.
In the US, between 1881 and 1968, as per the data compiled by the Tuskegee Institute, 4,743 people were lynched, 3,446 of the victims being blacks. They happened in the knowledge of the authorities and supported by the majority. In his biography in 1899, WEB du Bois wrote an eye-witness account, detailing that, “the knuckles of the victim were on display at a local store on Mitchell Street in Atlanta and that a piece of the man’s heart and liver was presented to the state’s governor.”
As we see here all the four defining features of a crime to be termed as lynching is met, much unlike crimes in India, random and sporadic, referring to few deaths across six years in a country of 130 Crore people and a shabbily armed, politicized, under-provisioned and understaffed police force. To some extent, the killings in Jan Adalats of Naxals and that of Kashmir Dy. Superintendent of Police, Ayuub Pandit could slightly come close to be qualified as a lynching, given the subtle support of the Mufti government and mass-approval of the majority civil population around at the time of brutal murder of the poor officer.
To understand the touchiness of the West, particularly the Americans with the term, let us look at the description of a lynching from 1921 mentioned in a pamphlet by Harry Haywood and Milton Howard- “More than 500 persons stood and looked on while the Negro was slowly burned to a crisp. A few women were scattered among the crowd of Arkansas planters..with the Negro chained to a log, members of the mob placed a small pile of leaves around his feet. Gasoline was then poured on the leaves and the carrying out of the death sentence was under way.- Memphis Press, Jan, 27th, 1921”
When one look at the degree of crude violence contained in this small passage, one understands and appreciates how any American with humanity at heart will look at any crime, even falsely claimed to be a lynching. This is the psychological angle that the left plays on. Indians neither had the tendency nor the stomach for such a crime. It is not that the leftist-intellectuals who use the term so loosely do not understand the difference between the mob-violence and lynching. They do. But they know that for the propaganda to win, it needs to provoke. So they provoke the collective guilt of Western society, by creating a mass hysteria against India which did not elect them to power.
They will claim to be anti-Nazi but are guided by the doctrine of Nazi propagandist, Philip Joseph Goebbels who wrote, “Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”
They are not bothered by the facts. Their conscience is not troubled with the hypocrisy when they refuse to drop a tear when the victim is not suitable to their political narrative. The video which I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, mentions four victims of mob-violence, all belonging to one community. It is important for India and the world, at large, to understand their nefarious designs to malign a peaceful and pacifist community.
As time has progressed, across last six years, like the victims from other communities increasingly turned out to be more in the number than the left’s most loved second-largest majority community in India, possibly because they constitute a huge amount of foot soldiers to the depleting leftist forces, people are noticing their lies, hypocrisy and are getting bored with them. Why do they continue to stick to the chosen words, apart from the historical reference explained above? This again is explained by Goebbels, in another of his quote, where he writes, “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is, in fact, a circle.”Have you noticed how often on debates about the economy and even about smart cities, they will go back to the irrelevant utterances about lynching?
A technology worker, writer and poet, and a concerned Indian. Saket writes in Hindi and English. He writes on socio-political matters and routinely writes Hindi satire in print as well in leading newspaper like Jagaran. His recently published Hindi satire collection “Ganjhon Ki Goshthi” is on amazon and getting excellent reception and readership.