The sanctity of laws against cow slaughter and transport has caused much of the lynching cases and vigilante violence in the country, a recent study has outlined.
According to the report, 94% of the deaths that took place at the hands of the vigilante groups – members of Hindu extremist groups. In the majority of the cases, these involved Gau Rakshak Dals (Cow Protection Units) – vigilante groups with their existence linked to governments’ efforts for cow protection.
The report - Lynching Without End: Fact-finding investigation into religiously-motivated vigilante violence in India - has also pointed out that “in some cases, creating space for private parties to aid the police in enforcing those laws.”
The report states that such attacks and violence comes as a shift in the method, from mass violence like communal riots to low-intensity individualised ones, as a part of a strategy to escape “public scrutiny”. “Of late, lynching and vigilante attacks have become the instrument of choice for violence against minorities – particularly Muslims,” the report points out.
The report also mentions the “impunity of state and private actors” in cases of hate crime, ensures that the hate violence persists and highlights the “poor working of the criminal justice system”.
The report carried out by an NGO Citizens against Hate shares, “how the largescale use of ‘cross cases’ against victims and witnesses of lynchings –mischievously, in most cases, given most were filed against unnamed individuals - severely limits the ability of victims to fight the long drawn legal battles.”
Adding that the police forces have failed in protecting the victims including those lynched publically, the police inaction, both to protect as well as take action against perpetrators have also “emboldened the latter, resulting in repeated attacks resulting in deaths.”
Since 2015, there have been as many as two dozen cases of lynching and vigilante violence that has claimed the lives of 34 persons, according to the report, and the study has pointed out that most of the victims in these cases belong to a specific community.
“The victims in all cases were poor backward caste Muslims identifying themselves as Qureishi, Meo, Gujjar, and Ansari, mostly those who traditionally make a living by engaging in animal husbandry, dairying, and in the meat supply chain sector,” the report mentions.