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TOI EDIT-No Lynching Please

October 09, 2019 06:12 AM


No Lynching Please Instead of coming out guns blazing against lynching, Bhagwat tangles himself in semantics RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s befuddling claim that “lynching” originated from another country and religious culture alien to India and using the “lynching” word to describe recent incidents of mob violence defames India exemplifies the difficulty faced by Sangh Parivar adherents to explain this violent social phenomenon. Bhagwat could have restricted himself to locating “lynching” as an alien practice and asking people to desist from it. But in going further to express irritation with those using “lynching” to describe the mob vigilantism and terming this a conspiracy, Bhagwat betrayed concern for form over substance. Call it “lynching” or “mob murders” the crime is no less deadly: lives are being brutally snuffed out and the rule of law derailed. Even the argument that lynching denotes “traditions alien to Bharat and belong elsewhere” doesn’t pass muster: no civilised society condones mobs meting out instant punishment. By asking critics to talk less about human rights and warning that they erode communal relations, Bhagwat is essentially restating the “Asian values” thesis that Asia leans towards collectivism, authoritarianism and social harmony over human rights. Extending that argument, Bhagwat wants those condemning lynchings to pipe down in the name of national pride and social harmony. However, lynchings undermine both national pride and social harmony. In today’s connected world one cannot expect to sweep them under the carpet, and adopting ambiguous positions on such a medieval practice hurts India’s global standing. The “Asian values” argument, according to which concepts such as democracy and human rights apply only to the West and not to Asian societies, is currently being challenged by Hong Kong’s brave protesters even as India, another Asian country, has practised democracy for the last seven decades – indeed that is what the freedom fighters who brought the Indian republic into being fought and sometimes sacrificed their lives for.

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