By: Bobbeeta Sharma
There was a spontaneous outpouring of grief. The young and old alike could not believe that someone of their own could meet a fate so savage, so brutal, so heart wrenching in their own homeland. The victims desperate cries of identifying themselves as ‘ Assamese’ in their own land could not save them. That their pleas fell on deaf ears, that not a single person among the perpetrators of crime gave a second thought to listen to them is incomprehensible to any sane mind. That the gradually swelling mob not only recorded every minute detail of the gruesome murders on their smartphones but also shared it on social media to make it viral is beyond reason. The images are haunting and will continue to haunt the minds of sensitive people.
What will also continue to haunt are the various reasons given for the barbaric lynching of the two young Assamese tourists in Dokmoka of Karbi Anglong District in Assam , just three hours away from Guwahati city. That it was a case of mistaken identity. That there was a rumour and superstition about child abductors doing the rounds in the area for some time. That the victims were child abductors. That they were wearing clothes which were unusual. That one of them sported dreadlocks and tattoo. That they were spending a long time near a waterfall and the rivulets. That they should have informed the district administration before going to the waterfall area. That they should have returned before nightfall. That the locals at night are drunk, hence not safe. That they had an altercation with a person who instigated the villagers to waylay them and teach them a lesson – a lesson that will take their life.
Whatever may be the reason, in a so called civilised world it did not justify a group of people to take law into their own hands and rage anybody to death. It only exposes a deteriorating law and order when a Deputy Commissioner says that anybody who goes to see the waterfall in that particular tourist spot should inform the local administration. It only reveals an increasingly superstitious society when rumours of child abductors with a certain ‘look’ is spread on whatsapp. It only exposes the rising intolerance in the India of today when dreadlocks and tattoo are seen to be unusual and different . It only exposes how hate and suspicion have become the order of the day in today’s India, when every minute people see on whatsapp, on Facebook , on twitter how hate is being fed against one community or the other – for eating beef, for eating pork , for having light skin and chinky eyes, for marrying outside of one’s religion or for being a Dalit boy and daring to attend a garba festival – list is endless.
This is the new India where young Indians are continuously being shamed every second of the day through moral policing . We get to see incidents of hateful attack on girls coming out of bars, we get to see couples harassed in parks and streets in the name of Anti-Romeo Squad and Love-Jihad, we get to see couples not only being just harassed but also subjected to shameful acts of stripping in front of cameras and their images circulated on social media. It is also impertinent to note that the majority of the perpetrators of crime and the victims are both young Indians. Instead of channelising and engaging this energy of the Young Indians in constructive work to contribute towards nation building it is being used to destroy the mental makeup of the youth of India. Hate for each other is what our young Indians are growing up with.
This hate and suspicion is further magnified when electronic media too uses the visual images of people thrashing each other repeatedly, irresponsibly. When some television anchors don the garb of judges sitting in their studios and starts a media trial, the seeds of hate are further proliferated.
When girls clad in mini skirts and jeans are perceived to be green signal for rape, when people who speak their mind are trolled on social media , when honest RTI activists are killed while unearthing corruption , when journalists like Gauri Lankesh are threatened and killed for not toeing the line, when rationalists like Dabholkar, Pansari, Kalburgi are killed for upholding scientific temper , the hate mongers hands become all the more powerful specially when the powers at the helm deafen society with their loud silence and follow the hate mongers on twitter handles and desist from sending out a strong message by bringing the hate mongers to book.
A vitiated atmosphere is thus being unleashed where some people get encouraged and revel in taking the law into their own hands as punishment is not exemplary and culprits have no fear of the judicial system. It becomes all the more dangerous when these people know that cracks have appeared at the highest echelons of the judiciary and that it is already compromised. When judiciary is compromised nothing can save this nation from getting justice against anything. There is then only the rule of lawlessness and hate breeds and thrives on lawlessness.
A hate machinery is at work, well oiled and running. While it only takes a second to ignite a community or religious strife it takes years to heal the wounds inflicted by such a strife. But it serves an immediate purpose to those who want to live off hate – create divide between communities, between religious groups, between man and man so that people keep engaged in this new sport of hate. They then have no questions to ask collectively for the collective good of society. They then have no time to ask about promises meant to be kept. They are being gradually trained to think and live with a parochial view to serve parochial interests. It keeps the hate adrenaline flowing and our youngsters lives and their future are held at stake like the two young men who went to see a waterfall. (The writer is the general secretary and senior spokesperson of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee)