Lynch Mob Mentality or the fallout of brutal incidents that are outside the boundaries of a premeditated murder, assault or killing by a mob enacting revenge for some type of offense has been on the rise in the current situation that is sweeping the country through illegal killing and unsound vigilantism.

The inhuman lynching of two innocent youth, Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das by a mob in Karbi Anglong foreshadow the sad state of affairs defying order and sanity to a large extent.

“We have killed this boy. Watch him on [the] news channel tomorrow”

In an exclusive cover of the report by Scroll, these were the intimidating words of a stranger who made a call to one of the friends of the dead victim after the parents couldn’t reach their son’s number.

A 100-strong mob had beaten the two budding youths to death on suspicion that they were child abductors. Some unidentified youth from Diphu had circulated news of child abductors on a Facebook group driving an SUV in Kacharigaon village which resulted in the imminent mob outrage.

The mob ambushed them while they stopped their SUV asking for directions.

Mob Lynching in Assam
Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath were the victims of the mob fury over child abduction

A video of Das pleading the attackers was doing the rounds where he was begging them to stop beating him with bamboo sticks and wooden planks on grounds that he was innocent and speaking the truth.

“Do not kill me… please do not beat me. I am an Assamese. Believe me, I am speaking the truth. My father’s name is Gopal Chandra Das and mother’s name is Radhika Das… please let me go.”

What has turned out today is the gross misuse of social media platform to incite “spontaneous mob fury” where less educated or ignorant people buy into these theories in the absence of a proper state machinery that allows them to take the law into their own hands.

Let’s look at the reasons leading to the normalization of such brutal mob violence that is palpable among a large section of the community.

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The lynching was a result of fear of the alleged child abductors that was passed as a word of mouth and through Facebook and social media posts leading to apprehension and hatred among the mob who started seeing any outsider as a non-participant of his/her moral community.

One of the spectators of the attack whose voice was silenced in an attempt to stop the violence said that locals grew suspicious of the two men as no one travelled in a car through that area in the evening especially when the whole village was already in the grip of panic amid rumors of child abductors or Sophadhora (child-lifters).

Mob-lynching in Assam
Protests over the death of innocent youth turn violent in India

The Instigators of Fake News

We are talking about people who either take part in the process directly by providing means to conduct the attack or indirectly by spreading anti-victim sentiments to incite the perpetrators who flee the scene in most cases.

The transmitters propagate fake images or fake news from unrelated events through Whatsapp and Facebook, morphing them to fit the current volatile situation.

The disagreement between the Sikhs and the Khasis in Shillong escalated when a fake Whatsapp news spread in a group showing some people from the Punjabi community beheading two Khasi boys.

Mob-Lynching in Assam
Curfew was imposed in Shillong over riots that spread as a fake Whatsapp message was doing the rounds

In a series of events that lead to curfew following the mob clashing with the CRPF and state police, it is the responsibility of the investigation agencies to arrest such rumor mongers before they mobilize a frenzied mob.

The Spectators Who Succumb To The Lynching Mob Mentality

The bystanders witnessing the lynching without participating in it are often more in number than the perpetrators and the instigators. Most of the time, they are either too scared or confused to intervene.

Talking about the recent spate of incidents, the spectators who captured horrifying pictures through the camera or circulated videos should have stood against the attackers instead of acting cowardly by staying silent.

Mob-lynching in Assam
The vehicle was driven by the victims in Karbi Anglong

There are possible circumstances where the mob would start considering the bystanders as outcast as they would make them feel less privileged.

The Police often seem to ignore their requests for intervention leading to the state failing its moral duty.

What manifested in Kacharigaon can be seen as a rumor that incited fear and hatred among the locals who decided to take law into their own hands in the absence of a proper civil administration or a law-enforcing body.

Other factors like rampant corruption by elite ethnic leadership and a distorted view of the non-tribal outsiders fuelled the mentality dehumanizing the victims as they were treated as “outcasts”.

Although 19 arrests have been made in this case with respect to users posting hate and offensive messages on social media, the need of the hour is to bring justice to the victim’s families by formulating a stringent law against such rumor-mongers and issuing imprisonment and death sentences for mob killing.

Sources: The Scroll, The Wire, The Indian Express, Countercurrents

Image Credits: Google Images

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