The National Campaign Against Lynching (NCAML) was launched on June 5, 2017 by a group of young citizens who came together to raise their voice against the social menace of lynching. Since the Indian Penal Code does not provide for incidents of lynching specifically, an urgent need for the same was felt. It is in this context that NCAML was woven around drafting and implementing the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA), which would eventually make lynching a criminal offence.
Since June 5, there has been a nationwide consensus among eminent citizens, thought leaders, politicians and the masses that it is high time the law of the land is equipped to deal with lynching in a bespoke fashion.
Just three weeks after the campaign was launched, citizens across the globe took to the streets to raise their voices against lynching. While the masses agree that there should be zero tolerance towards lynching, right winged detractors have begun to indulge in endless "whataboutery", accusing the campaign of being selective and communal in nature.
As Swara Bhaskar, one of the core members of NCAML rightly said, "selectiveness is in the brain" not in the intention, composition, or proposed implementation of MASUKA.
Firstly, there is a false narrative being built around the selective reportage about lynching. Rajkumar, a 25-year-old youth was lynched by the family members of a woman with whom he allegedly had an affair, in Churu, Rajasthan.
Dadri murder accused Ravin Sisodia wrapped in a tricolour. Photo: Internet/ Hindureporter
Ravinder, an e-rickshaw driver was lynched in New Delhi when he tried to stop a group of students from urinating in public. Lynching is no more a tool used by the majority for the resplendent display of power directed at the minority. It is used to settle scores and make a telling point that a mob has the dangerous potential to paralyse law.
It flummoxes me when ideologues like Swapan Dasgupta use communal crutches to highlight that the brutal lynching of Junaid was "picked" up because he belonged to a certain religion, but do not write vitriolic columns on the abject failure of the state machinery to protect innocuous citizens like Ravinder. Secondly, charlatan journalists are quick to grab the opportunity selectively and divert attention from lynching to feckless conspiracies, even if that means running false stories on the campaign activists.
On June 29, a national news channel famous for running-agenda based stories defamed Shehla Rashid, another core member of the MASUKA campaign, accusing her of being anti-national in a prime-time debate.
When students in London organised a protest against the lynching near Mahatma Gandhi's statue at Tavistock Square, London, Rahul Shivshankar, a prominent news anchor stated that Bapu's image was being used for "anti-national propaganda". Was Rahul Shivshankar able to identify faces behind protests organised at Toronto and Boston?
Thirdly, the MASUKA team's composition is far from being selective. In a desperate attempt to make herself heard, a right-winged journalist turned election strategist called the campaign an odd mix of "Congress-Communists Clandestine Combine".
Yes, the campaign is supported by those who believe the issue of lynching is taller than their incongruent ideologies. It was less than a century ago when the nation attained freedom on the back of a combination of disparate ideologies of "Bose, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, Tilak Clandestine Combine". Time and again, history has proven that no single ideology is self-sufficient to fight all battles.
It is only when the cause becomes the centrepiece and the ideology is a mere enabler that socio-political renaissance is realised.
Fourthly, the MASUKA draft is aimed at protecting constitutional rights of vulnerable persons - from women, widows, transgenders, people from certain States in India, international community, sex workers, to single mothers et al.
The fact that the campaign demands MASUKA to be the law of land elucidates the non-selective and inclusive DNA of MASUKA.
It is worth mentioning that MASUKA has not been petitioned to the minister of minority affairs or the ministry of social justice and empowerment. Swara Bhaskar has petitioned the prime minister of India, for he is above the locus standi of any social, cultural, economic or political identities.
If we cannot discuss Junaid with West Bengal and 2002 without 1984, we need to understand that those indulging in corollary jigs are clearly escaping from the real issue at hand.
Wasn't it blatant malfeasance when Dr Mahesh Sharma, Union minister of state for tourism and culture draped the body of Ravin Sisodia, who was accused of lynching Mohammad Akhlaq, in the tricolour.
He not only violated section five of the Flag Code of India 2002, but also lauded the lynching. Last, but not the least, those who have colluded silence on Dr Mahesh Sharma's shameful conduct are definitely selective in their outrage.