It’s no secret. We love fictional vigilantes. Brave men and women who mete out justice when the system fails. Characters like Batman and Spiderman fight for truth and justice on the big screen. But heroes eventually fall from grace. One day, we look up and realise that a billionaire in a rubber suit beating up the mentally ill isn’t the most morally unambiguous concept. In a similar way once we grow up, we realise that vigilantes do exist in the real world, but they’re a lot worse than you’d think.
Cow vigilantes were a blemish in an otherwise fair 2017. This year has so far been the worst year in terms of cow related violence. 37 cases of violence against a staggering 152 people resulting in 11 deaths. These bovine batmen have brandished their badass bludgeons to bash any brethren who would be bold enough to buy or barter beef. [Drops mic]
Looking back at the past 8 years 97% of cases happened after 2014, the year Modi government took over. This is proxy racism under the garb of justice to their faith and the law. Cow vigilantes like many others such, pose a serious threat to our nation’s standard as a whole and recognizes deep rooted failings in our law and order situation.
Since 2014 these men have grown fearless in their antics. They march into the homes of the disenfranchised, thrash them and take away their cows without any evidence of cow-slaughter. In many cases the victim was later proven innocent. Ask Pehlu Khan’s family.
Though dalits weren’t the worst affected, they were the target of a lot of attacks too. As if being a marginalised group wasn’t enough, they are thrashed for skinning dead cattle. This contemporary apartheid is appalling to say the least. But Dalit freedom is a separate and complex issue and it’s one that cannot be justice in this post.
“Gau rakshaks should neither fear anyone nor come under pressure from anyone” Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Chief Praveen Togadia.
After a bit of research I found something peculiar: The National Crime Records Bureau [NCRB] doesn’t have a database on lynchings and gau raksha. Which means that if not for other website databases like that of IndiaSpend, we wouldn’t even be able to have an informed discussion about this issue. In order to fix a problem, you must first accept on your own that a problem exists. Luckily the NCRB is finally planning to make one.
Any rational person would think that the police would be helpful and cooperative after incidents like this. That person would be mistaken. Police actions usually range from apathetic to downright ironic. One study shows that 49% of the time, the police arrests the victims of the mob!! This reads like a Nightmare version of Batman that nobody wants and most definitely nobody deserves. Remember the Pehlu Khan incident? The six of the arrested accused received a clean chit and walked out as free men. Free to go beat up people again.
Back to the vigilantes themselves. We love vigilantes. We have romanticised their stories since the days of Robin Hood. We love the idea of the common man doing the things the law couldn’t. Fictional vigilantes often provide us with that quick and easy solution. These stories like to give us a false sense of power. Even Bollywood, with it’s testosterone fuelled Singham movies isn’t shabby in that department. Which is why perhaps the reason we have failed to stop these goons is because half of us secretly admire them too. We need to stop treating them like heroes and treat them like the outlaws they are.