CLICK HERE to view the video
When the entire nation was fighting against COVID-19, by countrywide lockdown, a small village in Maharashtra, Gadchinchale Village, Palghar district mob lynched 2 Hindu Sadhus, and their driver. A vigilante group lynched total of 3 persons to death on 16th April 2020. This news has a lot more in it than it seems. Apparently, the villagers had spread rumors through Whatsup app stating about the possible activity of organ harvesting gangs and kidnappers in the area at night. The villagers mistook those Sadhus as thieves and lynched them to death. This heartbreaking inhumane act of those villagers was unknown to the general public until 19th of April 2020, when the video went viral on social networking sites.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- A sadhu (70 years old) and Sushilgiri Maharaj (35 years old) along with their 30-year-old driver Nilesh Telgade were travelling to attend the funeral of their Guru Shri Mahant Ramgiri in Surat.
- Around 10 pm, as they were passing through Gadchinchale, 140 km north of Mumbai, a forest department sentry stopped their car at local checkpoint.
- While they were talking to the sentry the vigilante group accosted and attacked them with sticks and axes. It was reported that victims were mistaken for being child thieves and organ harvesters.
- According to reports published on 17 April, the police had tried to control the mob, but they were beaten when they tried to intervene. Four policemen and a senior police officer received injuries in the incident.
Various questions arise after reading the facts and understanding the incident.
- Why was the police not able to protect the Sadhus?
- Why was the news not reported sooner, but only after it got viral over social sites?
- Can India still be called modern democratic republic, after incidents of mob lynching happening around in a sophisticated way?
Why was the police not able to protect the Sadhus?
The mob constituted an unlawful assemble under Section 141 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and police was authorized to use force to disperse that assemble vide Section 129 of the CrPC, 1973. In the case of Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu the Supreme Court had directed States to take disciplinary action against the concerned officials wherever they did not prevent the incident, despite having prior knowledge of it. The village had been circulating these rumors over Whatsup two weeks prior the incident. Still the police did not take necessary steps to reduce the panic among the villagers. According to reports, 2 police officers were suspended for negligence of duty. Its very evident from the videos on social sites that police officers were leading the crowd, and did not take any necessary steps to save the Sadhus and the driver from lynching. In a video, it was evident that a police officer, threw the old sadhu towards the mob. Did no police officer have had a rifle or a gun to control the crowd? Is there no fear of the police officers in the eyes of common public? The very diligent task of police officers is to save people and make them feel protected. Cases of these nature, makes us realize that, laws need to be stricter and the need of the hour is to redefine the role and duties of police officers for maintaining law and order.
Why was the news not reported sooner, but only after it got viral over social sites?
The next very important aspect of the entire case of mob lynching is why did this news have had no coverage from media? The public at large was able to acknowledge the news through social media. Is it already a fact that social media platform has become more reliable and trustable than mass media?
Media constitute the fourth pillar of democracy. The role of the media is vital in generating a democratic culture that extends beyond the political system and becomes engrained in the public consciousness over time. The idea of media, is to bring about what is truth and tell the people only the facts, but the story of palghar become an selective silence. The mortifying inhumane mob lynching and death of innocent was not reported and was in dark and silence by media. The case was known after several tweets and views of general public and flooding of videos in social sites. Even after that no media except the regional platform reported the news nor questioned government of such happenings and to take notice and action for the same. This is a complete state of Selective silence of media over the case of lynching. Not reporting some news may provide momentary comfort, but it will hurt the social fabric in the long run.
Can India still be called modern democratic republic, after incidents of mob lynching happening around in a sophisticated way?
The Freedom of Press represents collective will of the people. It flows from Article 19 of the Constitution. The rights and privileges of the press are devised to provide crucial information to citizens so that they can make informed choices in democracy. It is very disturbing to see that these cases have become individual right rather than public right to know the information. According to the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, the police arrested 101 persons within 8 hours of the offence. The case further was transferred to CBI, for further investigation. There are and maybe many cases being unreported and unknown to common public in large. It necessary to uphold the democratic values in the country and maintain law and order in the society.
Mob violence is an obnoxious slur on our legal system. Law is the mightiest sovereign in a civilized society. The majesty of law cannot be sullied simply because an individual or a group generate the attitude that they have been empowered by the principles set out in law to take its enforcement into their own hands and gradually become law unto themselves and punish the violator on their own assumption and in the manner in which they deem fit. Leaving apart violators, the Sadhus were no criminals, no violator, but mere pass by passengers. But they were brutally killed being no offenders. Its high time to make law with iron hands and punish the offenders in a way never before so as to protect the people from mob lynching in the near future.