Mohan Bhagwat Ji, a lynching by any other name would be as murderous

The annual Dussehra speech by RSS chief this year, slammed on social media, provides an insight into the Sangh’s mind and its inability to empathise with victims of mob violence or state oppression

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the ‘Vijayadashami Utsav 2019’, at RSS headquarter in Nagpur (PTI Photo)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses during the ‘Vijayadashami Utsav 2019’, at RSS headquarter in Nagpur (PTI Photo)

Sujata Anandan

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, said William Shakespeare.

He didn’t have much occasion to speak of lynchings because his plays were all set in proper courts of law and justice was not a vigilante type even in his 16th century characterisations, it was not just done to his characters but was also seen to be done.

In any case, in his time the word lynching did not exist. It came into being in mid-18th century: from what was, I quote, known as Lynch's law, named after Captain William Lynch, head of a self-constituted judicial tribunal in Virginia in the US, which was quite lawless at the time.

But if Shakespeare had known that word, he would have probably said a lynching by any other name would be as bloody, violent and murderous as we see the lynchings in India today.

For, a lynching, according to the dictionary meaning of the term in the modern day is “a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterise informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, convicted transgressor, or to intimidate a group.”

Sounds familiar? That is what is being done to Muslims and Dalits in the country today by cow vigilantes and the RSS Sarsanghchakak Mohan Bhagwat either does not know the English language or is talking through his hat, when he says we should not use the word lynching to describe, well, lynchings.

In his annual Dassehra address to Sangh members Bhagwat implied that the word originated in another religion (read Christianity) but it has no Biblical provenance. Lynchings of Blacks in the US have their origin in Confederate racism which arrived in the US much before its Civil War and continued to be practised by members of the Supremacist Ku Klux Klan well into the last century.

Today, every one of the definitions of lynchings, racism and supremacism fits the cow vigilantes to a T who are mostly associated with the RSS and draw their inspiration from the Sangh’s own supremacist philosophies.

So while critics might slam Bhagwat for his political sophistry, what was more dangerous about his Dussehra speech was his hidden satisfaction that in the nine decades of its existence, the RSS has succeeded in converting the minds of most Indians to its way of thinking. One can interpret that as a tacit sanction to Sangh ideologues to lynch the ‘others’ and those not agreeing with their views freely – only do not call those murderous acts lynchings, please!

The dangerous thing about this kind of political sophistry is that although Bhagwat paid lip service to the Constitution and called for police action against the violent mobs, there was also an expectation that the oppressed will bear up against the oppression and not bring disrepute to Hinduism and the nation in that order. There are shades of a desire to return India to its medieval culture when certain groups and communities had no rights and were punished for just raising their voice against their oppressors.

However, the manner in which social media had slammed Bhagwat by the evening of his speech tells him and others that the RSS has still not succeeded in converting all Indians to its world view and there will be enough of the people – Hindus or others - ready to defeat its nefarious designs for the country

However, it is clear from Bhagwat’s address that neither he nor his organisation have any compassion or sympathy for victims of the hate campaign unleashed by forces in consonance with the Sangh ideologues. All that Bhagwat seemed to be worried about was to safeguard some false notion of Indian culture and pride, obvious from his endorsement of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution – there was not a word of concern for seven million Indians having been kicked down for two months and treated as subhuman simply because they are Muslims.

It is now quite clear that to the RSS, it is only the land- both Kashmir and rest of India – that matters, not its people. Whether they be Kashmiris who are being crushed and squeezed or other innocent Indians being lynched, India is a great country and its leaders must not be criticised for running it to the ground.

But the RSS still has to convert the minds of at least sixty per cent if its population over the next five years. How it proposes to do that is not clear. It is not possible to throw all of them into jail. Nor, can everybody be lynched and expected to not raise a red flag over the indiscriminate violence that have taken over this land of peace and ahimsa.

Bhagwat ‘s next directive is eagerly awaited. By supporters as well as detractors.

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Published: 10 Oct 2019, 10:33 AM