Violent vigilante mob is the biggest disgrace to Mother India

Tabish Khair
Tabish KhairFeb 18, 2016 | 10:54

Violent vigilante mob is the biggest disgrace to Mother India

We have all read about it in the news. A 21-year-old Tanzanian woman was reportedly dragged out of her car and assaulted by a mob in Bangalore in early February. Apparently, a vigilante mob was reacting to a car, driven by a Sudanese, running over a woman in the locality. Whether the tragedy was motivated by racism or not, it is difficult to deny that it was xenophobic.


Xenophobia often takes an individual case and smears it across a larger section of people: because one immigrant is shown to be criminal, xenophobes in Europe argue that all immigrants are criminal. Similarly, the inability of the Bangalore crowd to distinguish between individuals - in this case even nationalities - reeks of xenophobia.

But I have a different bone to pick. Vigilantism seems to be on the rise in India. It is no longer mobs in taluk towns and the khap panchayat of some remote village that take the law in their hands and administer brutal "justice". Now it even seems to be happening in big cities - like Bangalore.

And very often such vigilantism is practised by people who consider themselves patriotic or nationalist. This is a worrying trend. The law exists to step between individual and group vendetta, to break the chain of mob vengeance.

By abrogating to itself the right of violence, the democratic state simultaneously makes it possible for individuals and groups to escape from the endless circles of vendetta and revenge that characterised human history until recently.


(If we look at states in free-fall today - Iraq or Afghanistan - we realise how important it is to break this circle of personal or mob vengeance, and how easily everything falls to pieces if this is not done.)

The democratic nation-state might not be perfect, but the moment a mob steps in and indulges in violent vigilantism, it hollows out the law and the state even further.

The only way to create a just society is to strengthen the hands of the law, not to take the law into your hands.

There is no difference between vigilantism and revenge killings. Indians who practice vigilantism in the name of India do their motherland the greatest disservice imaginable.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: February 18, 2016 | 10:55
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