Fr Cedric Prakash calls lynching a crime of terrorism
The Indian Jesuit says that mass lynching is "India’s greatest shame". Since 2012, 130 incidents have occurred, involving 311 people, 47 who were murdered. Federal ministers have "anointed and garlanded” murderers. The situation has become so explosive that a law is needed.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Mass lynching is "India’s greatest shame," this according to Fr Cedric Prakash, an Indian pacifist and a member of the Jesuit Refugee Service (HRS).
In no uncertain terms, he condemns the blind violence perpetrated by Hindus mobs, especially against members of the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities.
For him, the problem of lynching has become so widespread, that it “must be considered as an act of terrorism punishable by law".
The Indian activist points at the brutal murder of Tabrez Ansari as an example. The video of the 24-year-old Muslim man from Jharkhand crouching and pleading for his life went viral.
Behind such acts are Sangh Parivar groups whose main victims are Muslims, but Christians have been attacked as well.
The “sacred cow” is the common denominator for the violence, often used only as a pretext. The cow is a sacred animal in Hinduism and killing cows is deemed an outrage to the gods.
Some Indian states have banned trading in cattle and eating beef, which is staple food for Christians and Muslims, as well as the sole source of income for many poor who work animal hide.
For Fr Prakash, the violence committed allegedly to protect sacred cows is a "form of state terrorism". In fact, “one does not need to have too much of an intelligence to realise” that lynching is the new normal.
“Thanks to the videos from smart phones,” the violence “is visible, it is violent and it goes viral” with “some onlookers and even perpetrators tak[ing] sadistic pleasure in video-recording the violence”.
According to FactChecker, which monitors lynching, there have been 130 incidents since 2012 – a total of 311 people have been attacked, 47 fatally.
Overall, 77 per cent of the murders occurred in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party led by Narendra Modi, India’s charismatic prime minister.
"The tragedy of lynching in India today is that they apparently have the official sanction by the government of the day,” laments Fr Prakash, “in fact, some of the central (federal) ministers have publicly anointed and garlanded those responsible for these bloody murders.”
The frequency with which they are carried out "has led to a demand for an anti-lynching law". As early as September 2017, the Indian Supreme Court asked states to intervene with "strong measures,” he explained, “but absolutely nothing has happened to date. In some states, the government and the law and order mechanisms are blatantly in connivance with the murderous mobs.”
For this reason, “merely having a new ‘special anti-lynching’ law will not easily quell the murderous mobs. The central government has to make it clear, as per the directives of the Supreme Court, that lynching and mobocracy will not be tolerated”.
“As the country celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the leaders of today, need to stop indulging in empty rhetoric and to mainstream Gandhi’s doctrine of ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence).”