• Raajveer Singh Bisht

The Palghar Lynching: Communalisation in Action

The Palghar Lynching has given the media something new to stoke tensions on as news about the Coronavirus turns stale and other more ‘meatier’ stories are nowhere to be found. Moreover, as the current government grapples with a pandemic and the economic slowdown that preceded it and the predicted shutdown that will happen after it, the Palghar Lynching is just the latest example of political communalisation.

Previously, I’ve criticised the Indian liberal political clique for the subtle nudge they’ve provided to minority communalism but in this case, I find myself standing as a stalwart defender of the liberal reaction.

Accusations of liberal lethargy in reacting to this tragedy is being used as evidence of a minority-bias amongst the ideology, with some alleging that if the victims were indeed minorities the liberal community would be in an uproar, storming social media and flooding the information highway, condemning the government and India with it.

The argument itself is laughable, but to really point out the mental gymnastics required to even believe this argument of leftist hypocrisy for more than a fraction of a second, I have to draw comparisons to the best example of left outrage in recent memory, the Dadri Lynching.

The two major distinctions between these two incidents are the motives behind the crime and the demographics of the perpetrators. In the Dadri Lynching case the rumour of cow consumption in the Akhlaq household was targeted specifically towards outraging Hindu religious beliefs, in the Palghar Lynching we see that the accusation itself is universal (child kidnapping) in its ability to outrage.

Secondly in the Akhlaq case the demographics of the perpetrators was decidedly Hindu, the announcement denouncing and exposing the Akhlaq household was made in a temple and moreover the accused received support from communal elements within society. In the Palghar incident we see that the platform for rumours was not tied to any religious belief and that religious sentiments played no part in the fearmongering that preceded the lynching therefore no such communal flavour is found that is until the right-wing chose to include it for political expediency, harping upon the fact that two of the victims were Sadhus, forgetting that the law and order situation in the area was already tense and that none of the accused were Muslims.

If this case had devolved or would devolve into one wherein those accused have the ability to call upon the support of political figures or get invited to election rallies by major political leaders then surely the case would require further agitation. However, when the issue itself is not a societal one (in the Akhlaq case a big objection was to the law itself which banned the consumption of cows) but rather one of misinformation being spread by unreliable sources the reaction of political ideologies would be radically different. To ask for the same reaction to an event with a different background and a different aftermath is unreasonable, almost intentionally so.

In fact one can argue that the manner in which right leaning politicians and media figures pushed communalism into the context of this tragedy did more disservice to the victims who not only lost their lives to the worst of circumstances (rumours spread on social media) but then had their deaths be used as some sort of yardstick to measure the validity of political ideologies.

Ironically I believe in the coming times, the Palghar Lynching and the reaction of India’s civil society towards it would be the best example to highlight just how desperate some right-wing elements have gotten, using tragedies such as these to unleash their army of trolls onto the social media platforms, shouting out into the streets in a frenzy of faulty rhetoric and equally faulty logic.

To try and vilify a political ideology by manipulating a tragedy is a pathetic, horrific and juvenile thing to do and it truly is a low point for the Indian right-wing.

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