PM Modi on Jharkhand lynching: 'Action will be taken but don't blame the state'
Not just Modi, but even Rahul Gandhi—who tweeted against the Jharkhand lynching—has been reluctant to tweet much on lynching
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally broke his silence on the lynching of Tabrez Ansari, 24, who succumbed to his injuries on Saturday, days after he was beaten up by a mob in Jharkhand on suspicion of theft.
Reports also said that Ansari was asked to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’ – something voices in the opposition say proves that the crime was ‘communal’ in intent.
PM Modi said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday: “Death of youth in mob lynching is sad, culprits will be punished, but blaming entire Jharkhand for a killing is not right. Whether in Jharkhand, West Bengal or Kerala, violence should be dealt with equally.”
“We have no right to defame the whole of Jharkhand. Isolate the criminals and take action. Law and judiciary are competent. We will do whatever necessary and won’t back down,” Modi added.
The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) June 26, 2019
But, some people in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state.
None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand: PM @narendramodi
This came close on the heels of opposition criticism.
“The brutal lynching of a young man by a mob in Jharkhand is a blot on humanity. The cruelty of the police who held this dying boy in custody for four days is shocking, as is the silence of powerful voices in the BJP-ruled central and state governments,” Congress president Gandhi had tweeted.
The brutal lynching of this young man by a mob in Jharkhand is a blot on humanity. The cruelty of the police who held this dying boy in custody for 4 days is shocking as is the silence of powerful voices in the BJP ruled Central & State Govts. #IndiaAgainstLynchTerror pic.twitter.com/4MKvli1ohC— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 25, 2019
While PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti sought to know whether this was the way to win sabka vishwas (trust of all), AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted: "This is the pattern with almost all lynchings. First, a Muslim is murdered by cow lovers. Then the most ridiculous excuses begin: a 'suspicion' of beef possession, theft, smuggling & love jihad. So much for sabka vishwas when we can be killed over mere 'suspicions'."
Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had said in the House that Jharkhand had become a "lynching factory" and "sabka saath sabka vikas" was not to be seen anywhere.
PM Modi did respond to criticisms but gave it a spin that also allowed him to try to score political points.
One, he clubbed Bengal and Kerala with Jharkhand, the immediate context of the outcry. Second, he suggested that those criticising the lynching were trying to "defame" the entire state. This was also the response of Modi to the Gujarat riots of 2002 when he was Chief Minister there: critics, he had said repeatedly, were trying to "defame five-crore Gujaratis".
Not just the Prime Minister but also the Congress president has been somewhat mooted in criticising incidents of lynching, which have been widely reported in the global media.
Modi, who had been silent on lynchings -- often of Muslim men suspected to be involved in beef storage or transporting cattle for slaughter -- by cow vigilante groups broke his silence on June 19, 2017, when he said in Ahmedabad, “Today, when I hear that someone is killed in the name of a cow — whether he is innocent or guilty is something the law will decide — no person has the right to take the law into his own hands. I appeal to the people of the country: violence is not a solution to the problems.”
Rahul Gandhi himself has tweeted just seven times against lynching incidents. There were three tweets between October 3, 2015, and December 1, 2015, on the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in western UP, the first being a tweet saying he was going to meet the bereaved family.
Met the family of Mohd Akhlaq and expressed my deepest condolences— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 3, 2015
The three tweets that came after this, between 2017 and February, 2018, were on the lynching of Kashmir policeman Mohammad Ayub Pandith, that of then Union minister Jayant Sinha garlanding men accused of lynching, and one against the lynching of a tribal in Kerala. He did not tweet on the much-publicised attack on Pehlu Khan.
The latest tweet is on the Jharkhand lynching that is at the centre of controversy now. Gandhi did not tweet against lynching for year before the Lok Sabha polls, his twitter handle shows, though global media reports even up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls hit out at the government for failing to coax state governments to take prompt action to prevent such incidents. The reason might have been the
Congress' reluctance to be seen as being too strident on "secularism" in view of a perceived right wing shift among voters.
A recent US state department report -- rejected by India -- has claimed that there is a rise in incidents of religious intolerance and violence in India in recent years.
According to IndiaSpend, 31 cow-related incidents of violence were reported in 2018, 73 per cent of the victims being Muslim. In 2017, 43 such incidents were recorded, 60 per cent of the victims being Muslim. In 2016, 30 such incidents were recorded, with 42 per cent of the victims being Muslim, while in 2015, 13 such incidents were reported, with half the victims being Muslim. The corresponding numbers in 2014 -- when the Modi government came to power -- 2013 and 2012 were three, two and one, respectively.