Legal Writings

How many more Rakbar Khan: Mob lynching and vigilantism

July 23, 2018

When people take the law into their own hands to punish a person without a fair trial, justice dies a slow death. And when the lynch mob turns racist, the result is even more deadly. But the worse is when the authorities turn a blind eye, then to even think that the criminals will be brought to justice is to dwell in a fool’s paradise.

The incidents of mob lynching by the cow vigilantes on a mere suspicion of cow slaughter is not a new development, but what is scary is that the frequency has considerably increased after 2014.

Rakbar Khan lynching case (recent)

Police investigate the spot where a man was beaten to death by a mob. (ANI/Twitter)

On July 20, 2018, a 28 year old man, Rakbar Khan, a resident of Kolgaon in Haryana and his friend were mercilessly thrashed by the villagers in Ramgarh on a suspicion that they were the cow smugglers. His friend survived but Rakbar Khan couldn’t be saved. What is chilling is that as per The Indian Express and NDTV, the police took almost 3 hours to take the victim to the nearby hospital, barely 4 kms from the spot of the crime. Acc. to NDTV report, an eyewitness said she had seen the police beat and abuse the injured man.

The value of human life can be gauged by the fact that instead of taking Rakbar Khan to the hospital first, the police chose to first transport the seized cows to a shed.

Akhlaq’s case

The first major incident of mob lynching after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections took place on 28 September 2015 in Dadri, UP, where a 52 year old Mohammad Akhlaq Saifi on a mere suspicion of stealing and slaughtering a cow calf was beaten to death by a mob of villagers. His son too sustained injuries. On inquiry by the Government it was found that the meat found in Akhlaq’s home was not beef. October 15, 2017 report in Times of India states that the accused in Mohammad Akhlaq lynching case, who are out in bail have got jobs in the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant in Dadri near Bisada village.

Pehlu Khan lynching case

On 5th April 2017, a dairy farmer from Nuh district of Haryana named Pehlu Khan was attacked and murdered by a group of 200 cow vigilantes affiliated with right-wing Hindutava groups in Alwar Rajasthan. In this case again, all the six accused named by Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration have been given clean-chit.

These three incidents are not the only incidents, everyday a new incident comes to forefront, hotly debated, accused are arrested only to be later released, public forget and go back to sleep unless jolted by another chilling incident.

I would like to conclude with a conversation that I had with my sister a while ago.

Sister: “write something on mob lynching. You were anyway going to write about it, weren’t you?”

Me: “Ah! everyday a new case. You know all the people whom Pehlu Khan named in his dying declaration have been acquitted. Everything is futile now. I don’t think my words will leave any impact.”

Sister: “that is exactly what the men in power want. To normalise these incidents so much, that people start getting immune towards them. We cannot and should not ignore the plight of the victims.”

My sister’s last statement really hit me hard. She could see what I couldn’t, that’s exactly what they want. To instil hopelessness in the hearts of even those who do not easily give up. We can’t let them win in this poisonous agenda of theirs.

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