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Talk of the town: The untold story of Palghar

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INTRODUCTION

The April 16, 2020, witnessed a brutal and heart-wrenching lynching of two Hindu Sadhus and their driver near Gadchinchle village under the jurisdiction of Kasa police station, Palghar in Maharashtra. The dire turn of events transpired when two Sadhus and a driver in an S.U.V. were heading towards Silvassa to attend the funeral of their Guru Shri Mahant Ramgiri. Their car was stopped at the Maharashtra-Gujarat highway check-post after that; they preferred a longer route through Palghar. The Maharashtra forest department’s forest guards stopped them, and at the same time (10:00 PM), the unruly mob attacked the trio. The mob armed with rods and sticks murdered the saffron-clad Sadhus. The victims were taken out of police vehicles and mercilessly killed[i]. The investigation agencies relying on prima facie information stated that the execution of the horrific incident transpired due to misinformation and rumours of organ harvesting gangs and kidnappers in the area, and villagers have formed a couple of vigilante groups among themselves. Henceforth, the mob believed the trio to be thieves.

OUTCRY OF THE LIBERAL LOBBY SINCE 2015

The “epidemic of lynching” is prevalent in India for a long time. Importantly, many endeavours to link this brutal attack on humanity to communalism; therefore, worsening this scourge’s consequences. Selective silence is witnessed on lynching owing to the religion of the victim. Forty-nine celebrities signed an open letter dated July 23, 2019, to the PM Narendra Modi, underpinning the Right to Dissent enshrined under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. Excerpt from the letter where the so-called saviours of secularism wrote: “lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must stop immediately.”[ii]The explicit mention of a few castes and religion while excluding the others is entirely against the tenet of the constitution’s secularism. Moreover, they went on to say, “Jai Shree Ram has become a provocative war cry today that leads to law and order problems.

On September 28 2015, near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, when a mob lynched Mohammed Akhlaq, a loud outcry resounded throughout India. Political leaders, including Akhilesh Yadav and Asaduddin Owasi, went berserk and communalized the issue. Moreover, Nayantra Sahgal returned her Sahitya Academy Award. Others, including Ashok Vajpeyi, also returned their awards. Azam khan, the then Cabinet Minister of Uttar Pradesh favoured to state the issue in United Nations. However, the entire liberal and left lobby remained silent on Palghar lynching.  When Mohammad Hashim was murdered, and Mohammad Zubair was beaten in Delhi, the whole of the liberal lobby demonstrated a similar attitude. The useful data structured blogs and websites regarding the lynching of Muslims are omnipresent on the Internet database, but only a few acknowledge the plight of Hindu victims. This discrimination restricts constitutional contours because Article 14 of the Indian Constitution enables equal protection of laws and equality before the law.

FALSE PROPAGANDA AND HYPOCRISY OF THE LIBERAL LOBBY

The liberal lobby remained tight-lipped on unprecedented violence and demonstrated hypocrisy in several cases: On panchayat elections in West Bengal 2018; Jagannath Tadu’s was murdered because he followed a different ideology from that of the ruling dispensation of West Bengal; on vandalizing of temples in Kaliachak, Deganga, Daduria, Ranigang and Chandni Chowk in Delhi; and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.[iii]. There are Certain tailor-made analyses and reporting instances where neither public exhibition of emotion nor outcry was expressed.[iv]  Few among these instances are enumerated below:

  1. Bandhu Prakash Pal, RSS worker, and his family, including his pregnant wife, were brutally murdered in Murshidabad, West Bengal, over a petty issue for a sum of 24000 rupees.
  2. Pankaj Yadav and Bharat Yadav, lassi shop owners, were killed by a Muslim mob on some perceived inequity when asked to pay the price of lassi.
  3. V. Ramalingaj, a leader of P.M.K., was brutally murdered by chopping off his hands when he opposed the religious conversion.
  4. Ankit Saxena was killed for loving his soulmate of a minority religion.
  5. Chandan Gupta [v]was killed in Kashganj when he refused to Pakistan Zindabad.
  6. Auto Driver Avinash Saxena was lynched in west Delhi for allegedly stealing car batteries.

Preposterous Attack on the Right-wing

When a Hindu executes lynching, the entire liberal lobby accused Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, calling it a militant Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization that repeatedly orchestrates attacks on Muslims. Lynching often is linked to the Right ideology, and perpetrators are referred to as hard-line violent Hindutva believe[vi].This attack on RSS is intelligible.

MEDIA’S ATTITUDE: INDIFFERENT OR SELECTIVE

It is righty believed, “Not publishing such news will provide momentary comfort, but it will damage the social fabric in the long run.” This selective silence is evident in the delayed reporting of the barbaric act[vii]. Apart from the regional press and social media, no reports covered this story.

News does the public good. Freedom of Press flows directly from Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.  The Right to make choices is the gift of democracy. The choice of a person pertains to his reasoning. The reasoning is based on knowledge, and the press helps an individual to gain knowledge. Hence on learning experience, one exercises the Right to Vote. [viii]Therefore, freedom of the press is not the individual liberty of reporters, but the collective will of people. When ruling elites become the Watchdogs of journalism, then the quality of journalism suffers, and people are kept devoid of a glimpse of reality. In today’s world, freedom of the press is the heart of social and political intercourse.[ix]

Selective targeting is no different from selective silence; both have an ulterior and oblique motive to misguide people and bereft citizens of unhindered reporting.   Arnab Goswami, a news reporter, editor in chief of The Republic and host of “PoochtaHai Bharat,” hosted a program aired on April 21, 2020. Through the platform and his agenda, he raised his voice for investigating the actual cause of the incident. He questioned the tardy investigation, different public acknowledging of the investigation agencies, and eerie silence of the State Government. Moreover, he highlighted the initial concealment of police personnel’s presence at the site of the attack. After that, he was slapped with multiple F.I.R.’s throughout the country. The F.I.R.’s mentioned offenses under Sections 153, 153-A, 153-B, 295-A, 298, 500, 504(2), 506, 117 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code 1860.

Most importantly, all the F.I.R.’s were filed in Congress-ruled or allied ruled states. Thus, filing of F.I.R.’s on the same issue is indicative of the endeavour to muzzle media. The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that the sinister campaign of filing multiple F.I.R.’s in various states should be checked to the criminal procedure code’s vexatious exercise. Further, the court underpinned to protect journalistic freedom within the ambit of Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.[x]

POLICE SYSTEM: AIDED OR AVERTED THE INCIDENT

In the Palghar mob attack through a video which is surfacing on many online platforms, it is evident that the Sadhus begged the police personnel present at the site to protect their lives. Instead, the police personnel shrugged him and allowed the mob to persecute and murder him. Moreover, amidst lockdown, a mob of hundreds was permitted to assemble, and then pushing the Sadhus into the hands of the unruly mob caused severe and pertinent questions on the Police’s role. Also, it is unintelligible how 40 policemen would not possess any arms and what stopped them from aerial firing. This unfortunate event has shocked the people’s conscience, and hence, a fair investigation under C.B.I. is indispensable under the irresponsible behaviour of police personnel of the State Police by omission to perform their duty.

CONCLUSION

The liberal lobby go berserk and burst outcry when the victim of lynching is from a Minority community, but they conveniently remain silent when the victim is a Hindu. Moreover, this is evident from the letter addressed to the Prime Minister and their selective silence that they are not concerned about the spectre of lynching in totality but remains perturbed when a victim belongs to a specific community. The incident at Palghar and liberal lobby’s selective silence  have anguished the entire nation. This selective outcry that suits their narrative and double-dealing no more seem bearable. Lynching is a sin in totality, and such attempts to communalize this horrendous crime and bamboozle the nation should be severely castigated. The liberal lobby must mete out similar treatment to all the victims. This act of meting out equal treatment to all individuals will glorify the term “secular” in its true spirit, as mentioned in the preamble to the Indian Constitution. Stringent laws need to be enacted against lynching in the light Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment, Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India[xi] . Immense power must be given to the Police to deal with the spectre of lynching when the court opined a broad legal framework to combat lynching. However, an appropriate departmental inquiry must be initiated against them if the omission of duty is proved.

Mark Twain once said on racial lynching in Missouri in1901 that the “United States of America” may turn into ‘The United States of Lynsherdom.’  India must be watchful that a similar situation must not arise.  A.N. Mittal, chairman of UP law commission, also expressed a similar fear.


[i] Debasish Panigrahi, Everything you need to know about the Palghar attack where Sadhus were lynched by a mob, Mumbai mirror, April 20, 2020, 1.

[ii]Mayukh Ranjan Ghosh, Amid rise in lynching cases, 49 celebrities write to PM Modi; say ‘dissent makes India stronger,’ times now(July 24, 2019, 14:01),https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/amid-rise-in-lynching-cases-49-celebrities-write-to-pm-modi-say-dissent-makes-india-stronger/458260.

[iii] Dilbag Rai, Now, 62​ celebrities write an open letter against ‘selective outrage’ and ‘false narratives,’ times of India(Jul26,2019,12:27),http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/70391152.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

[iv]JhankarMohta, 23 incidents of Hindus being lynched, brutally murdered, that has failed to inspire any outrage from the ‘liberal’ ecosystem, opIndia(April 23, 2020), https://www.opindia.com/2020/04/23-incidents-hindus-lynched-murdered-no-outrage/

[v]Vijaita Singh,  Wary Kasganj, tries to come to terms with burst of violence, The Hindu (JANUARY 29, 2018,22:13), https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/wary-kasganj-grapples-with-unprecedented-violence/article22568349.ece

[vi]s harsh Mander, Lynching, the scourge of new India, The Hindu(October 16, 2020, 00:02),https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/lynching-the-scourge-of-new-india/article29693818.ece

[vii] Ramesh Venkatraman, How the Palghar lynching of a metaphor of all times, India facts (May 22, 2020),indiafacts.org/how-the-palghar-lynching-of-sadhus-is-a-metaphor-of-our-times/.  

[viii]INDIA CONST. art. 326.

[ix] Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Private Ltd. &Ors. Etc V. Union Of India &Ors. Etc. Etc.,(1985) 2 S.C.R. 287(India).

[x] Arnab Ranjan Goswami v. Union of India and others, (2020) AIRONLINE SC 546 (India).

[xi]Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India,(2018) 9 S.C.C. 501 (India).

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