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Palghar Lynching: A tale of fear and paranoia

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“Fear is not what we see but it is what already resides inside us”. In what we call an extremely brutal incident, two Hindu ascetics from the Juna Akhara, Mahant Kalpvruksha Giri Maharaj, Sushil Giri Maharaj and their driver were lynched by a frenzied mob on the night of 16th April. The news came into limelight only after the lynching video which was being filmed got circulated widely. This took place in a small village Gadchinchle in the Palghar district of Maharashtra. Around 500 people gathered near their car and started breaking the car’s window and overturned their cars. As per the video that is being seen, the police seems helpless and is handling over the victims to the bloodthirsty mob. Here we have to take note that the nearest Palghar town is 100 km away and the 200 police personnel backup force reached hours after the lynching took place.

Now the question here arises is why this incident happened at the very first place? When we talk about the media everyone knows that there is a selective narration of news. Different media houses will put forth different facts and analysis and we can’t rely on their credibility. There are no neutral media channels. For leftists NDTV is the most unbiased but a different ideology person wouldn’t agree with the same. But there is something very important here, the role media plays here in moulding one’s thoughts and belief systems.

A little background research revealed that the mob lynched them on suspicion of child trafficking whereas some media houses like “The Print” says that they were lynched on suspicion of illegal liquor trade. Whatever be the case, the root cause here is the suspicion, the fear residing in the mind and heart of villagers. The continuous graph of xenophobia has been on the rise. And the most common reason for that is the ongoing politicization of any issue. Recently Waris Pathan, a politician from AIMIM said a controversial statement where he stated that 15 crore Muslims will dominate the majority Hindus. This is not something new and Akbaruddin Owaisi from AIMIM only said about killing Hindus if police is removed for 15 minutes. If we analyze all this we can clearly project that the hate speech has been on a rise. The concerning part is that not much attention is paid and they are shrugged off as it is nothing serious, no one was harmed. People fail to see the repercussions immediately but this has a long lasting impact onto the human minds.

In the Palghar lynching case Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said not to communalize the issue. But at the same time media houses have come up with their own conclusion of labeling Sadhus as tribal, villagers as innocents and not liking and interference in their life. The misleading reporting to suit their own agenda is now costing all of us a big price. The continuous evil portrayal of the saffron by the left cabal, communalizing any issue when a culprit is Hindu and at the same time ignoring it when the victim is a Hindu has resulted in the paranoia being developed regarding the saffron mainly. Here it should be noted that a mob doesn’t look for any caste, creed or religion. So in this case we are only talking about this particular incident and not generalizing the concept and whitewashing the crimes of any community.

I would argue that two reasons are mainly responsible for these incidents. First is the politicization of any crime. In this case BJP was quick to blame NCP and declared Uddhav Thackeray as an incompetent Chief Minister incapable of holding onto the legacy of Balasaheb. And the blame game continues, channels will hold debates, dialogues will be exchanged but no one will try to know the crux of the case. Second reason is the media houses and their biasness. Whether print or digital, they have their own agenda to push. Couple all this up with the slow judiciary system of our country where citizens have lost their faith and they have actually started believing in taking crime and punishment in their own hands. All of these factors have given rise to an environment of fear and the citizens are paranoid to an extent that is unbelievable. What the mob saw was that the Sadhus are saffron clad Sanghis who are a threat according to the pseudo secular narrative that triggered this action. All this thinking has been developed in a very systematic way over a time.

Instead of being following the philosophy of “Guest is God” we have developed a xenophobic attitude inside us. In the video we could clearly see how a 70 year old Sadhu was clinging to the police officer who thought would save him only to be left alone with the hyenas ready to prey. All that the mob saw was an unwelcomed foreign guest. Police investigation found out that there has been a circulation of fake Whatsapp news related to child trafficking and the authorities are nabbing the culprits. We are talking about what is being done later on but never about the root cause. Until and unless this selective targeting of a particular community stops, this hate mongering will continue. Because at the receiving end of the violence there are only humans whose mistake is just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

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