THE CITIZEN EDITORIAL | 4 DECEMBER, 2018
The Mobs Take Over
Complete lawlessness has overtaken UP under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
Sometimes words are not strong enough to condemn a gory incident, such as the murder of a police officer at the hands of a mob in a village in Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, who tried to placate the mob which was incensed over reports of cow carcasses, was first hit with a stone. His driver put him in the vehicle to take him to hospital, but the mob empowered by the policies of the government in power in UP, chased them, cornered them in a field and shot Singh dead. The driver said later that he ran for his life. As always there were enough videographers in the mob to capture the incident and release it on the social media.
A bystander was also shot dead, with what the cops insist was a stray bullet. Not clear whether the bullet was fired by the armed mob, or by the police. After killing the police officer the mob robbed him of his service gun and his mobile phone. The violence continued for over an hour with the police at the receiving end, and the mob sufficiently charged to target the police without fear of reprisal. Not only did they throw stones at the cops, but they went ahead and shot the one police officer who was trying to placate them but was targeted as an obstacle, and then took away his service revolver.
The video was made and circulated with a certain confidence derived from impunity. And although five persons have been arrested, with a Bajrang Dal activist being ‘accused no.1’, it is a matter of speculation whether they will remain behind bars for long. Most of those involved in mobs that have lynched individuals have been let out on bail, or acquitted by the courts for want of evidence.
Complete lawlessness has overtaken UP under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The mobs that have let loose terror and violence in the state, are now clearly armed. In earlier incidents the police was reduced to the level of a bystander, or as local residents in targeted areas have said to the media, participants in the crime. Encounters that Adityanath has proudly acknowledged have become the order of the day, particularly in western UP with Muslim and Dalit youth being specifically targeted. This direct confrontation was waiting to happen, for when mobs are encouraged to form, and are protected from the law, they lose their fear of the law. Mob violence has now entered its next phase, with the youth who form the bulk of such attacks, more than willing to take on the law.
It is not easy to shoot a police officer, something even hardened criminals would balk at. However, in this case not only was the Inspector attacked with a stone, he was chased, shot dead and then robbed. All in front of witnesses who were part of the mob, but witnesses nevertheless.
What happens when citizens lose their respect and fear for the law? And take it into their own hands, in the belief that there is a larger authority looking out for them, with the power to protect and shield them from the consequences of their crimes?
When the mobs took over the targets were innocent and helpless citizens of India, who were surrounded, beaten, lynched. As mobocracy progressed, the anger has turned against the police, which had started feeling the pressure a while ago as reflected in its hesitancy to even try and stop the mobs from unleashing their violence.
The Bulandshahr case clearly demonstrates what will happen to that rare species, a police officer respecting his uniform who tries to come between the mob and its intended target. The media has already faced this wrath, as in Tripura where a mob brutally hacked a journalist to death.
The politicians are next, and governments after. Mobs are monsters that cannot be returned to the bottle, and the danger arises from politicians delusional enough to believe that they can own a mob and direct it reliably to do their bidding.
It is only ever a matter of time before the mobs turn. And plunge the nation into a state that has been politically described through history as anarchy.