Root causes of rising mob frenzy

Decades of neglect of primary-secondary education and continuous under-investment in the police-justice system have converted post-independence India into the quintessential soft state, resulting in a steady descent into anarchy. The most obvious manifestations of anarchy being let loose are lynch mobs proliferating countrywide, stringing up and murdering randomly selected strangers in local communities on suspicion of child kidnapping. On May 9, two suspects were lynched in Thiruvannamalai (Tamil Nadu) following a fake social media alert of child kidnappers. In the month of May, five citizens were publicly murdered on similar suspicions by irate mobs in peninsular India, including two transgenders in Hyderabad. A few days later, two visitors to Karnataka were beaten and bloodily dragged through the streets. Last year in the northern state of Jharkhand, seven innocents were lynched on similar unfounded suspicions. 

These are just a few recent examples of irrational mob frenzy — rooted in deep general resentment against the iniquitous social order — which has become pervasive across the country. Combustible mobs materialise within minutes to belabour and often kill, citizens on the merest suspicion of caste, community slights and aspersions, and issues pertaining to cow slaughter, inter-caste/community love and marriage. Within the vast majority of the educationally short-changed citizenry unacquainted with digital technology, ignorant of the legal doctrine of presumption of innocence, there’s a widespread belief of safety and impunity in mobs. This combined with an accumulated disgust with police corruption and the law’s delay, has generated a vigilante justice epidemic.

Curiously, India’s much vaunted intelligentsia whose members shine in international forums hasn’t been able to discern the root causes of the country’s steady slide into lawlessness and chaos. The plain truth is that prolonged under-investment in the law and order and justice machinery (contemporary India’s police-to-citizens ratio is a mere 138 to 100,000 and judges a paltry 1: 60,000) has destroyed public confidence in the criminal justice system. Digging deeper, it’s also obvious that continuous under-investment in education (which prompts respect for due process) is a causative factor for spreading lawlessness.

In short, decades of failure of the intelligentsia to question runaway government establishment expenditure and protest the glaring inefficiency of the public sector-led model of economic development which has dissipated national savings at a furious rate, has starved Indian education, agriculture and the police-justice system of investment. A major share of the blame for spreading lynch mobs frenzy needs to be also laid at the doors of the country’s intelligentsia and academics, who have failed and neglected to suggest ways for government to mobilise and invest greater resources in education and the law, order and justice machinery.