Lynching/mob attack cases highest in Kerala: Minorities panel

Seeks report from state govt, police chief on lynching of Christian youth 

The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Vice-Chairman Shri George Kurian has sought a report from the Chief Secretary of Kerala, DGP, District Magistrate, Police Commissioner of Ernakulum on the lynching of Jibin Varghese, a resident of Thammanam in Ernakulam on March 10, 2018.  In a letter to the above-mentioned officials, the vice-chairman stated that the act was reprehensible and demanded that the guilty should be brought to book, said a press release issued by the minorities commission.

The Vice-Chairman also raised concerns over rising lynching and mob attack cases in Kerala where more than eight cases have been reported in the last one year. According to reports, in a majority of such cases, the victims were either members of minority communities or marginalised communities and migrant workers.  In many cases, it has been found that the victims were innocent people.

In a case of moral policing, Koya, a resident of  Podippara, Malappuram, was beaten to death on October 12, 2018. In a similar case, Mohammad Sajid, 32, committed suicide after he was brutally assaulted by a group of persons at Kottakkal in Malappuram on September 1, 2018. Visuals of assaulters questioning Sajid and beating him up were widely circulated on the social media in the following days. The victim was tied with ropes and thrashed alleging that he attempted to rob a house in the locality. Another youth, Punnassery Nasir Hussain, 42, was tortured to death on June 27, 2016, in Malappuram.

In a tragic case, Josna Sibi, a pregnant Christian woman, had to undergo an abortion after a group of CPI(M) workers attacked her over a land dispute her family had with an influential party leader in Kodencheri town in Kozhikode district. The incident took place on January 28, 2018. Due to the threat from the party, the family had to relocate to another place.

On February 13, 2018, a tribal ‘mentally unfit’ man, Madhu, was lynched to death for ‘stealing’ food in Kerala’s Attappady in Palakkad district. The incident triggered national outrage.  Manik Roy, a migrant worker Bengal, was lynched on the suspicion that he had stolen a hen in Anchal, Kollam. The incident took place on July 16, 2018.  In separate incidents, two migrant workers Kailash Jyoti Borah, 29, and Chotu were assaulted by a mob and the former succumbed to his injuries.

Makkar, a Muslim fish vendor, was assaulted by a mob in Idukki district when he sought the return of money one of the accused had owed him. Badly bruised, Makkar had to be admitted to the Taluk hospital in Kothamangalam.

In fact, the rise violence is a reflection of lawlessness and loss of moral quotient in the society and the recent trend has baffled social scientists. Although media highlights stray incidents of mob violence elsewhere in the country, similar incidents in Kerala rarely get national attention. Such stray incidents are blown out of proportion by the mainstream and social media in Kerala, leaving a psychological impact on the minds of youngsters. Kerala has reported the highest number of mob violence with respect to its population.

Experts have blamed this violence on a rise in socio-political and religious schisms, a rise of vigilantism and an apparent atmosphere of impunity for attackers. Social media is aiding and abetting the process and encouraging criminal elements to take law into their own hands. In most cases, culprits were found to have a political association and this prevents stern police action.

According to the Vice-Chairman, the government and law enforcement agencies alone cannot address this issue. Social scientists, civil society and religious organisations should step in and work to bring about awareness among youngsters. It is important to note that in such cases, not only victims but perpetrators too have to suffer the consequences. Such incidents have not only claimed lives but several households have become orphaned.


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