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The Nagaland Crisis: Violence can’t justify more violence

  • JWB Post
  •  March 9, 2015

 

While some of us celebrate International Women’s Day and others sulk grieving about the beef ban in Maharashtra, some furiously discuss “India’s Daughter” as few are busy following the cricket World Cup, a fellow human has been lynched by a crowd of thousands. He was dragged out of jail, beaten to death and hung in full public view. What the man saw when he breathed his last was a crowd mocking his inevitable death, clicking selfies, cheering and jeering the violence that soon was to be the reason of his death.

The man in question was an alleged rapist. The first news that flowed claimed the man, Khan, was a Bangladeshi immigrant and had raped an adivasi girl. The man held in the police custody was taken out from there by a mob of thousands, beaten and then hung.

Most people cursed our system, thought it’s the divine interference that brought justice, and moved on. The next morning a clear picture of what had happened started forming. News bits, facts, pictures and articles started flowing in. This stage of any incident for people like me is the most crucial one because this is the time when random information starts floating and it becomes very easy to connect the dots.

As the news channels and online forums started following up the incident, the horror of what had happened dawned. At first, I refused to believe what I read and promptly went into a denial but that sweet bliss couldn’t have been forever.

When such an incident occurs, there are few things that need to be kept in view. Like

1. The accused is not guilty unless proven.

2. We are not living in a country that believes in barbarianism.

3.We have a judicial system that no one can override.

Or at least, these are the things we would like to believe.

But, what happened was the exact opposite.

A huge crowd gathered and a protest rally was organized at the clock tower of the district, which was supposed to be “peaceful”. What happened next has two versions. 1. The mob marched up to the Dimapur police station. There the police tried to stop them with batons and tear gas but failed to do so since they were clearly outnumbered. In the process, some inmates who were jailed also fled. The crowd then got hold of Khan, dragged him outside, stripped him naked, started beating him and dragged him (he was dead by them) tied behind a vehicle to the point assigned and hung his naked body there. 2. The other version is, the jail authorities let the protesters inspect the cells so that they could then identify the accused who had been shifted there from the police station. In the chaos, three other inmates, who have been charged under sections of the National Security Act also fled. Here, the point to notice is, the protesters were allowed by the authority. (http://m.firstpost.com/politics/mob-fury-in-nagaland-rape-accused-stoned-to-death-1-killed-in-police-firing-2139117.html)

 

What splashed the newspapers and news channels were the images of a man being beaten, being stripped, being stoned, being dragged and then being hung in full public view. What questions the conscience of the nation is , a crowd of thousands of men finding pleasure in inflicting pain, finding it amusing, making videos, clicking pictures, dragging a dead man tied behind a vehicle and then hanging his body. How can the crowd be called a gathering of humans? Who targets a man, clearly defenseless and attacks him and kills him and finds pleasure in doing so? Even if he was a rapist, even if he was an immigrant, how is this justifiable? How is this justice?

At this point, it is necessary that we know more about the man. His name was Syed Farid Khan. He was an Indian. As Indian as me or my friends or my parents or my teachers in school or our PM. He belonged to Bosla village in Karimganj district. The village is in southern Assam, located 350 km from Guwahati. In the words of  Sanjib Gohain Baruah, the deputy commissioner of Karimganj, “The Khans have been there for generations, like many Bengali-speaking Muslims in Barak Valley (of south Assam).” Also, his father has served for 20 years in the Indian army’s Military Engineering Services and his two elder brothers–Kamaluddin and Jamaluddin are soldiers in the army. Another brother, Imanuddin, died of wounds sustained while fighting in the Kargil War of 1999 (http://m.hindustantimes.com/india-news/family-says-lynched-dimapur-businessman-was-framed-point-to-their-army-ties/article1-1323816.aspx)

Does this man qualify as an Indian now? Has he proved his identity? Can we now look objectively at a murder that was committed because apparently we have no empathy for people who are not like “us”. Can we now lift the veil from our eyes and say this was probably a planned hate crime? Is it wrong to now say or think that he was targeted because he belongs to the minority? Since when did we become a country of barbarians? How can we criticize ISIS when this happened in our country, in full view of the people responsible for maintaining law and decorum?

A man was killed. Forget the Indian part, ignore the minority aspect. Let’s concentrate on a man being killed by a crowd for a rape charge that is still not conclusive in spite of the medical examination (http://ibnlive.in.com/news/dimapur-mob-lynching-case-situation-remains-tense-in-assam-nagaland-no-arrests-so-far/532522-3-226.html ).  He was killed by thousands. Thousands of our dear fellow Indians participated in a killing with a smile, armed with a telephone to record it all so that no action is lost, cheering away at his pain and agony, finding pleasure as a man breathed his last. Would the crowd be punished? Would our twitter friendly government react? Would the authorities apologize? Would the family of the man brutally killed ever trust the authorities? Ever trust our country?

What have we become?

– Riti Das Dhankar

Guest Blogger

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