Ordinary people who raise their voices are beaten up by mobs
The incident where a family of four – Selvin Chetty (40), his wife Priscilla Chetty (40) and their two daughters aged 11 and 14 years – were attacked and beaten up by a mob of 300 people shocked me. Is this the kind of mob rule that we have to live with in India now? This incident didn’t even take place in the hinterlands of India, but in Nerul, not far from Mumbai city. And that too in a prestigious supermarket like D-Mart.
The provocation seemed minor to me. Chetty (he works with the South African embassy) had an argument with a shop-assistant and apparently clutched her hand to stop her from putting some biscuit packets into his shopping cart. I wonder how the girl thought that this was an act of molestation or sexual assault (the man was in the shop with his wife and two teenage daughters) but she did. But even if she thought it was molestation, why did she (or her friends) call up fellow villagers (Karave village) and incite them? It would have been better to make a complaint as it would have humiliated Chetty far more. But the way things turned out, the sympathy is for Chetty. A mob launched a murderous attack on the man and his family and it is clear as to why. For one thing these mobs have no fear of the law. Secondly, goons are usually part of mobs and use the anonymity of crowds to do their thing. Is it any wonder then that Chetty’s chain was snatched? He should be thankful that his family was not molested! His daughter had to have stitches on her head. What sort of people are these who live so near civilisation? Why are they not behind bars?
This mob dragged the family outside and beat up even the two girls! The manager of D-mart and their security guards did not bother to come to the aid of the family. What a shame! If it wasn’t for three brave sardars who were shopping in the same market (they formed a cordon around the family) someone could have got killed! It’s shocking that even hours after the incident no one had been arrested.
There was another incident in the same area some months ago when a group of ten youths on bikes attacked a retired Brigadier (S C Sharma) in Navi Mumbai just because they were “angered at being ticked off by the victim’s wife for speeding’. Incidentally, after these bikers were arrested, hundreds of villagers gathered in support of the youths! I do know what has happened to the case now, but why should hundreds of people support those who assault a senior citizen? It’s scary!
I think this just shows how how vulnerable we all are. If we are relatively safe it is only because we are timidly holed up in our houses and don’t confront anybody! We are safe by default! If we actually spoke up against injustice we know what will happen to us. If we open our mouths, mobs could be out to get us, mob of hooligans, thieves and molesters!
Political parties are either involved or they protect
What else can one expect when political parties take up cudgels on behalf of accused? For example, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray “accompanied” the 14 accused in the Mumbai molestation case (where a mob molested two women) to meet Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil saying that the ‘real’ culprits should be caught. Whether these boys are innocent or not is not the business of any political party but we see too many instances of people in mobs being protected by political parties and all for political gains. Last evening on TV I heard a gentleman from the same party giving elaborate reasons as to why the boys were innocent. But what business is it of his? It’s police business! But he knows only too well that it is difficult to indict anybody in a large crowd.
Many times mobs are incited and/or controlled by political parties. There was the incident of cars and trains being torched in Mumbai (riots all over Maharashtra) because because a statue of B. R. Ambedkar (a native of Maharashtra) was damaged in far away Uttar Pradesh! This was suspected to be politically motivated and planned. I didn’t hear of anyone being arrested for the violence. In another incident, the President of the Hindu Rashtra Sena Dhananjay Jairam Desai was arrested for his alleged role in the attack on the Star TV office. But I am sure he is free now.
These kind of incidents embolden rioters. They feel it is their birthright to attack and terrorise people. Our government might as well tell them that committing crimes in a mob or in a big group is safe and legal so go ahead and do it!
And these groups, if not supported by the political parties, will get support from their own communities, their families, and their neighbours as has been seen in the D-mart incident. Why, this can happen to anyone! Suppose a man accidentally touches a girl, he could have have a murderous mob come at him, particularly if the girl has a whole village behind her! There will be no chance of proving himself innocent and god forbid if his family is with him!
We are all vulnerable
What happened to Chetty can happen to any person. Any one. Whether it’s because of errant driving or because a patient dies in hospital, there is always a chance that a mob will collect and people will take the law into their own hands. Prevalence of mob rule in society shows a breakdown of law and order. It is terrorism of the most terrifying kind. Because it’s by a herd of unknown anonymous people. It’s terrorism by the people.
Related Reading: Violent mobs should pay
The 2007 Gujjar riots and update of 2008
Docs in India often have to face irate mobs
Comparision of violent crime in the world
Too many policemen on VIP duty in India
Poor people to Police ratio in India
Riots in Maharashtra – Dalit violence in November 2006
Fake mob attack by political party