It’s not that the country was free of alteractions, scuffles and violence a few decades ago. But things, definitely, were not like this earlier. They have deteriorated over a period of time. Until eighties, I still vividly remember, if and when there were disputes or arguments between two individuals or groups, there were people who used to intervene and help the issue get resolved. During early nineties, people slowly started staying aloof if two people were arguing or a group of people fighting. The level of apathy kept on growing. People became so indifferent to mishappenings around them that they wouldn’t bother even if someone is raped or stabbed in a public place by miscreants and left to die.
The recent incidents of violence such as the mob-lynching of 16-year-old Hafiz Junaid in a train or killing of the Jharkhand trader Alimuddin highlight the new degree of insensibility. In these incidents, the onlookers not only supported and cheered the criminals but many of them joined the act. Another worrisome and dangerous thing about the latest violent incidents is that they do not seem to be random but pre-planned and well-orchestrated attacks targeting members of minority communities to instil fear in them. The worst part is the silence and inaction on part of the Central and State governments.
Amid all these grim developments, the good news is that a section of public across the country has started voicing its concern. #NotInMyName and black band protests on Eid day did have an impact and forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say that killing people in the name of gau bhakti (devotion to the cow) is not acceptable. This is the third time in past three years that Modi has spoken on the issue. The first time he spoke about a week after Mohammed Akhlaque was killed in Dadri on September 28, 2015, for allegedly storing beef in his refrigerator. The second time the prime minister spoke was after the incidents in Una, Gujarat on July 11, 2016, when four Dalits were flogged for allegedly killing a cow.
But, unfortunately, he never talked about it in so many words. He should have said that the law and order machinery will act quickly and firmly and the Centre has zero tolerance for such crimes. The government, he ideally should have assured, will make efforts to reach out to assure minority communities — particularly Muslims, Sikhs and Dalits — that their rights will be protected at all costs. He should have taken the names of at least a few victims such as Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, Hafiz Junaid, etc and condoled their families while adding that such heinous acts would be dealt strongly.
People have become so indifferent that they don’t bother even if someone is raped or stabbed in a public place by miscreants and left to die
But nothing of such sort was uttered. While he was issuing the soft warning to lynch-mobs in Ahmedabad, Mohammed Alimuddin, a meat trader, was being killed near Ranchi. Modi is yet to advise state governments to take legal action against such brutal killings. BJP President Amit Shah is yet to make any statement on the recent violent incidents. Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states are yet to issue orders to nab the culprits.
Apparently, no one from the ruling party has so far visited the families of the victims of the latest mob violence. And this is too much for the so-called Achhe Din.