“The law may not be able to make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The rise of lynchings in the name of cow vigilantism was challenged in the Supreme Court in the case of Tushar Gandhi v. Union of India before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices D Y Chandrachud, and A M Khanwilkar. The Bench reserved its judgment on July 3, 2018.
Written submissions by Indira Jaising in Lynching case trace the history of lynching from the time when it was prevalent in the United States as a measure to impose segregation and subordination of African-Americans. While detailing the increase in number of such cases, and the communities targeted, the submissions even point to certain common characteristics of these lynchings in the country.
Lynching is defined as a group of people killing a person for an alleged offence without a legal trial. Over the last 3-4 years, citizens belonging to the minority community (Muslims/Dalits) have been victims of targeted violence. This targeted violence has occurred mainly on the false suspicion of carrying cattle for slaughter or on the pretext that they were consuming beef. There common features that can be noticed in these lynchings are:
1.False pretext of carrying/possessing cow for slaughter/ eating beef
2.On the basis of the apparel, which may include either a kurta or a prayer cap ‘taqiyah’
3.On the basis of their appearance, including keeping a beard.
Between 2014 and August 2017, more than 70 cases of targeted lynchings were reported. Targeted violence is defined as violence with the motive of targeting a particular category of people based on race, sex, religion or caste. The said categories are considered vulnerable communities and it is in all societies minorities are in danger of being dominated by majorities and this is the very reason why all constitution’s guarantee the rights of minorities. The rights of minorities are protected under Article 15 that forbids any discrimination based on sex, caste, religion, and race. The exponential increase in targeted violence and mob violence over the last 3-4 years points to the failure of the State Governments and also of the Union Government to prevent the said violence leading to the inference that there is dereliction of duty on their part.
Per the report published byIndiaSpend, Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centred on cow vigilantism over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents. 97% of the attacks targeted on Muslims/Dalits centering on cow vigilantism were reported in the last 3-4 years. These attacks include mob violence, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault and even rape.