NEW DELHI: Two incidents. One in Uttar Pradesh where a mob of Bajrang Dal supporters attacked a police station in Agra, mercilessly beat up a sub-inspector, burnt his vehicle, demanding that five of their men arrested by the cops be released.

The mob was led by BJP Fatehpur Sikri MLA Udaybhan Singh who demanded the release, and then left while the mob attacked the cops. These men had been arrested as part of a mob earlier in the day that had gathered outside demanding the release of another group of Bajrang Dal men who had been arrested for attacking members of the minority community.They also demanded that the cases be registered against the victims.

In South Delhi three Muslim men were thrashed by a mob outside Kalkaji for transporting buffaloes. The attack took place in full public view, caused a traffic jam because of which the police arrived and quietly led away the bleeding victims.

Mohammad Akhlaq and Pehlu Khan. Two men from poor families lynched by cow mobs in two years, with no justification except rumours feeding into the larger communal environment. And now three men stopped near Kalkaji in New Delhi by a cow mob, beaten and thrashed for carrying buffaloes.

Complete impunity as these heinous attacks are taking place in full public view, regardless of the response. Often the videos are taken by the assailants and put up on video tube not even bothering to hide their faces. This, as a former police officer said, happens only if the assailant is certain of protection.

The differences in the Akhlaq and Khan lynchings are a matter of detail. Akhlaq was dragged out of his own home and beaten to death by a mob insisting he was storing beef in his house. He was never even given a chance. It was a Samajwadi party government so some action had to be taken, but shortly after the mobs and BJP leaders virtually hounded the victim’s family out of their home, insisting that cases being registered against them instead. They are on the run, fearful of their lives.

By the time Pehlu Khan was killed, it was clear that the cow mobs have acquired legitimacy, being supported by the state and the police. They, like cops, stopped the vehicle in which Khan and his son were travelling with their newly purchased milch cows, dragged him out and beat him to death. The police immediately moved to register cases against the man who was killed, his son who was beaten up and the others assaulted for “illegally” transporting cows, although it was more than clear from initial reports that they had all the necessary papers. And this attack did not happen in a remote village but on the busy Jaipur-Delhi highway, in full view of all passing by. And in case anyone might have missed it, the assailants video-graphed the assault that was almost immediately available on the internet.

Since over a year now every such incident, of assault and attack by the cow mobs or Romeo squads, is being filmed and put up on the YouTube. By one of the assailants who has been given the task to do so, to ensure that the violence reaches a large audience in all its graphic details, scares and terrorises the targeted community and people, and makes the task of subduing sections of the population that much easier.

For instance any number of unverified, unidentified videos are in circulation now of Muslims being targeted in UP. These videos do not give a date, or time, or venue, or city, with the camera focusing on the face of the Muslim grabbed by some persons and made to raise slogans and swear his allegiance to whatever he is asked to. Staged or real, these are being taken seriously by many, as the intention is to terrorise and subjugate the minorities in the state ever since the Assembly elections in the state that brought the BJP to power.

Perhaps the difference between the Akhlaq and the Khan lynching is essentially one: the complete marginalisation of the Opposition that was visible in the first, and completely disappeared by the time Pehlu Khan was killed. Except for a slight noise in the safety of the Upper House in Parliament, the Opposition did not even bother to visit Khan’s village, and offer succor and some relief to the terrorised family and community. Nothing. It was left to the civil rights groups to come out on the streets, as many did, or organise fact finding visits. The Congress, the Left, the regional parties had nothing to contribute and have nothing to say on the almost attacks on the Muslims by the cow mobs. Not a word, not even a statement from any of the top leaders.