Dissecting the Lynching Narrative and Its Very Serious Ramifications in India
Recently, 49 self described celebrities sent a letter to the Indian Prime Minister discussing the “increase in lynchings” in India. And these lynchings, they asserted were against Muslims, Dalits and other minorities.
Interestingly, they never discussed that so-called “lynchings” happened to any community and had nothing to do with one religious community as a victim or with minorities.
For example, Gangaram Singh Chauhan of Aliyabad village in UP was lynched by Muslims because he reported his Muslim neighbour (25-year old Mohammad Danish) who had abducted his daughter for the second time (first time she was recovered from Rajasthan!!). They left him for dead while shouting “Hamare beech mein reh rahe ho aur hamein hi moohzori dikha rahe ho? Hinduon, yahan se bhago [You live among us and yet dare to stand up against us? Leave our area, you Hindus].” And threatened that they could do anything with his daughter and he couldn’t do anything to save her!
Also, in Mathura, lassi owners were beaten and one of the brothers killed in broad daylight by a Muslim mob.
IN Rajasthan’s Alwar district, for example, a Dalit man Harish Jatav was killed by a Muslim mob when he accidentally hit a Muslim woman with his bike.
So, you see, these mob attacks incidents can also be said to be done by Muslims more and more. Interestingly, none of these incidents were played up or commented on by any of the media personnel. And many media outlets did not even report them. Which creates a terribly biased statistic and precedent. By not reporting some incidents and reporting only selectively those which align with your narrative, is contamination of statistics overall. As Abhijit also argues in his brilliant comment in a TV debate. And his comment is spot on terms of all the major aspects of this case.
One of the important things Abhijit shares is lacking of proper law enforcement infrastructure. Specifically the police presence in rural areas. India is #20 in a list of 144 countries with respect to police per 100,000 population. Definitely one of the least policed population in the world. And this problem accentuates in the rural area.
So when things go bad or a crime is committed in the rural areas, due to lack of police and lack of strong local law enforcement, the matters are often – unfortunately – settled by means of crowd justice.
There is a policy takeaway from the situation if, and only if, one were to analyze this situation dispassionately and with a view to improve things. That takeaway is – the empowerment of law enforcement and increasing the police presence while improving community outreach efforts.
But once you take such a serious law enforcement gap in the nation’s rural masses and turn it into an ideological debate where you target one community on the back of another, specifically using religious utterances as your back up, you are not just selectively vitiating the atmosphere, you are setting the agenda to improve law enforcement back!
How did American slavery lingo found its way into India?
And, what is most intriguing is how was something that was linked to American slavery history – lynching – become the central theme of crimes that were happening due to lack of law enforcement in India? For many in US, it is an important issue of history. Interestingly, lynchings are inextricably linked to Christianity and slavery, buoyed by the brutality of Jim Crowe’s Southern supremacism.
These lynchings weren’t just vigilante punishments or, as the Equal Justice Initiative notes, “celebratory acts of racial control and domination.” They were rituals. And specifically, they were rituals of Southern evangelicalism and its then-dogma of purity, literalism, and white supremacy. “Christianity was the primary lens through which most southerners conceptualized and made sense of suffering and death of any sort,” writes historian Amy Louise Wood in Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940. “It would be inconceivable that they could inflict pain and torment on the bodies of black men without imagining that violence as a religious act, laden with Christian symbolism and significance.” (source)
Suddenly in the last few years, that which was a crime fundamentally rooted in Christian supremacism and hate was not just introduced into Indian lingo but used to characterize the Hindus in the global media in a way that resonated with that culture. The use of the word lynching was not random. It was strategic.
Once Hindus have been tagged as Jim Crowe knock offs and Muslims as the new blacks in India, the demonization of an entire community becomes an easy sell!
American Christian Right and Anti-Modi connection in India
Now, let us look what is the link between Christian symbolism in America and anti-Modi political narrative in India?
On March 19th, 2015 around the completion of 300 days of the BJP government led by Narendra Modi, a protest was undertaken by some organizations which impersonated as “critics” of Narendra Modi, on Jantar Mantar. These were the organizations that were the organizers. It is an interesting group of actors. Please focus on the names highlighted (see the flyer used below the list)
AICCTU, AIDWA, AILU, AIPWA, AISA, AITUC, Akal ka Dhabha, All India Catholic Union (AICU), All India Secular Forum, Alliance Defending Freedom India, Aman Biradari, Anhad, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, Asmita, Ayodhya ki Awaaz, Beghar Foundation., Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, CBCI office for SC/BC, Centre for Harmony and Peace, Varanasi, UP, Centre for Holistic Development (CHD)., Christian Legal Association, CITU, Delhi Solidarity Group, Dhanak, DYFI, Federation of Catholic Associations of the Archdiocese of Delhi, Forum against Corruption and Threat, Guild of Service, Indian Catholic Youth Movement, Indian Radical Humanist Association, Indian Social Institute, IPTA Delhi, Jamia Students Solidarity Forum, Jan Pehel (MP), Jan Sanskriti, Jan Sanskriti Manch, Janam, JWP, Khudai Khidmatgar, Kiss of Love, Lal Jhanda Beedi Mazdoor Union, Lok Parishad, Mewat Karwan, Mewat Vikas Sabha, MOEMIN, Muslim Women’s Forum, Nagrik Ekta Manch , National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, National Federation of Indian Women,National Forum for Housing Rights, Navodaya Lokchetna Kalyan Samiti , Nishant Natya Manch, NoMore Campaign, People’s Campaign against Politics of Terror, People’s Research Society (MP), People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism, Philadelphia Church, Prashant, Gujarat, Progressive Writers Association, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan, Religious Liberty Commission of EFI, Right to Water Campaign, Rihai Manch, UP, Roopankar, Infore, SACW, Saheli, SAMLA, Sandarbh, MP, Sangwari, SFI, Shahri Adhikar Manch:Begharo ke Sath (SAM:BKS)., Society for Social Change (SSCI), The Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI) , Trilokpuri Platform, Ummid Shelter Home, United Christian Forum for Human Rights, Women for Water Democracy, YUVODAYA – Youth Commission of Delhi.
Here is the flyer of that protest.
Let us discuss two of the main organizations:
Christian Legal Association is part of the Advocates International group, which is a worldwide group of lawyers which further the Christian theology within the legal profession. As President of CLA, Vijayan Peter Bhaskaran shared in this interview – ‘We will create lawyers based on Christ’s teachings’. Advocates International: is “A worldwide fellowship of advocates bearing witness of Jesus Christ through the legal profession” (source)
Alliance Defending Freedom India – has less to do with social freedoms and more to do with paving the way for Christian evangelism and providing legal backup for that. Alliance Defending Freedom: provides – “Practical legal help for churches so you can freely live and preach the Gospel.” (source)
So, now think about it – what were these two organizations with “franchise owners” in US with a view to globally push the Christian evangelical agenda, which is behind the emergence of ultra right and Donald Trump in India, doing organizing protests against Modi? That too along with ultra Left and Islamic organizations? At Jantar Mantar?
Does that sound fishy and stink of a deeper strategy that what many would like to acknowledge or discuss?
Lynching narrative backed by Selective Reporting is a serious strategic attack on Indian fabric
To help resonate a certain narrative for India within the global audience, it was important to use a lingo that carried a certain imagery and emotion. Emotion of savagery, wrong, fascism and slavery. More than just racist, these were religious crimes.
If those with the agenda of furthering a certain narrative that was anti-India, could link the Hindu community with a certain lingo and imagery, they would not have to prove or explain a lot of things. Just the mere association would bring the hate and contempt of the global community upon Hindus and India.
The task of hitting Modi and bringing down his largest political base, the Hindus, was the aim. And that is why he was portrayed as the Indian Jim Crowe and Hindus as the White Christians of the 1800s and Muslims as the Black slaves. The rest was easy.
This is not about the killings of a few Muslims that is being reported up, while Hindu killings are just not reported (as Abhijit mentioned about the NDTV report) or reported without the use of names. It is far deeper and serious than that. It is about demonizing an entire religious community – the Hindus. Because, they are the base on which Modi, and the BJP, has almost annihilated the opposition.
In a bid to fight Modi and BJP, Hindu community at large will be the collateral damage!