Crime and context: 

Crime and context


  • It is high time that the country should understand the context of lynching and how it had come into existence.


  • There are countries where lynching, as a form of collective violence, is common  but retrospectively, India was not one of them.
  • In India, after 1993, though small incidents continued, big riots declined.
  • The pattern broken only twice, first in 2002 in Gujarat and next in September, 2013 in Muzaffarnagar.
  • Because of its size and destruction, the latter (September, 2013) raised alarms in 2013-14.
  • Big riots like lynching might have come to the Indian scenario because of two reasons:
  • Firstly, worldwide data show that at higher levels of income, which India has relative to 1993, rioting becomes highly episodic, as opposed to occurring repeatedly.
  • Secondly because while majorty-minority polarisation would be in the political interest of the ruling party but widespread rioting was not.
  •  It is to be noted that the minorities of the country are not the only target of lynching but they are at the spotlight.
  •  Because the new reason for lynching is beef and cattle trade, both explicitly connected to the majority’s nationalist project.

Two categories of lynching:

  • The first aims at restoring routine order via mob violence.
  • Instead of using the police, mob violence is used as a disciplining mechanism.
  • The second category of lynching aims at enforcing a majoritarian ethnic/racial/religious political order.
  • As for example, During 1880-1930, white mobs lynched black Americans if they crossed a certain historically embedded hierarchical boundary.

Who are the actual criminals?

  • The routine criminals are the instigators, not nationalists of the country’s majority.
  • Moreover, in routine criminality, calculations and jealousies have often been inserted into the master narrative of riots and civil wars.
  •  Thus, if the master narrative of cow protection were not so systematically promoted by the current Indian political elite then the regular criminals would not have that narrative to plug into.
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