By Anupa Lahkar Goswami
Guwahati, September 22, 2019:
The recent news of the Septuagenarian doctor lynched to death by in Assam, raised massive outrage and the people from different walks of life came together to protest the dastardly act. While the medical community took out protest against mob attack against their profession, most people began to feel insecure about the possibility of such attacks that could be triggered with the slightest mistake.
Mob lynching is not new nor is it justified to only relate it to certain governmental policies or ideologies alone. Rather, mob lynching can be traced back to the times when it was usually associated in the early eighties. In the United States, it became an instrument directed toward blacks, who made up a highly disproportionate number of its victims. Lynching then overturned polarity to become not a white response to black atrocity but rather it took the form of white mechanism to keep blacks down.
This kind of natural justice was not just directed to vent out unified anger but also as a display of terror of what possibly could be the fate, if things went out of order. With sporadic cases of mob lynching raising its ugly head time and again, it became a part of parliamentary discussion too, especially in the wake of the brutal lynching of Abhijit and Nilutpal in the pristine hills of Karbi Anglong where the people were said to be misdirected by fake news of child lifting. This was followed by similar stories repeating in West Bengal, Bihar and other states of India.
Not simply attributing it to fake news or limiting it to be a techno-centric problem, we should keep in mind that mob lynching has a history and the root of this kind of attack lies in the fact that we often tend to celebrate violence in many forms.
Violence conducted against another, be it a spouse or neighbor in public, is often covered extensively by media. A petty thief, if caught, suffers a horrific fate at the hands of the public or the owner of a vehicle who is part of an accident is often provided with mob justice, irrespective of who is responsible for the accident.
The media through its extensive coverage always tends to celebrate this, which, in turn leads people to believe that mob justice is instant, self-righteous and effective. Most of the times, news channels are invited to witness pre-planned violence and sometimes vocal threats that are directed towards a particular party are very beautifully captured by the camera to show the audience.
Of course, if the United States of America blames video games for gun violence rather than easy availability of arms for gun violence, simply attributing mob violence resulting from fake news or hatred towards a profession or community would be myopic. Should there not be a change in our attitude of providing instance justice? Has the legal system failed itself in providing timely justice? Perhaps it’s time to retrospect and that too very minutely at our news and television content. A change of perspective would be revealing.
Anupa Lahkar Goswami is working as Assistant Professor at Department of Communication and Journalism, Gauhati University
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