ate crimes are not only continuing but also increasing in India. The latest of them has been reported from Assam. It is reported that a man, a Moslem, was accused of transporting beef, heckled and forced to eat pork. The incident reported from Biswanath, however, has not been attributed to communal tension, as the police claim another person from a different community had received similar treatment in an incident earlier. The video of the incident has promptly gone viral. It shows the man, identified as Shaukat Ali, being questioned about, among other things, whether he was a Bangladeshi and whether his name was included in the National Register of Citizens. Such hatred and fear are widespread in the country today, particularly with mob violence and mob action taking place everywhere. In recent times there have been reports that warned of the possibility of India plunging into a civil war. The increase in instances of mob justice points to this possibility. The media has seen to it that mob mentality gets legitimized or acceptable in the general psyche. While such incidents have been quite common, although not as publicised, the frenzy that the media, particularly social media, have created around them ensures that each incident has wider audience and acceptance. Of course, it is not just the media that is to blame but more the social atmosphere created by political wrangling that is responsible for the situation prevailing across the country today. Bystanders producing videos of such incidents using smartphones and uploading them on sharing internet platforms has become a common occurrence now, pointing to the social insensitivity that is creeping in on us all. The case in Assam is particularly noticeable as this BJP ruled state itself has an ambiguous law on cattle slaughter. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950 permits cattle over 14 years of age to be slaughtered if they are given a ‘fit-for slaughter’ certificate by a doctor from the state’s animal husbandry and welfare department. These animals should be found incapable of work or for use in breeding. The law also does not distinguish between buffaloes, cows or bulls. For people who earn their living from the slaughter of animals, incidents such as these are a threat to livelihood and will push them further to the fringes of society and make them vulnerable to exploitation by hatemongers. At present, certain fringe elements may be drawing courage from the silent support of those in power and the invisible instigation by segments in the opposition. But such actions can survive only until such support continues. For as long as those in power and those aspiring for it keep their eyes trained on votes alone, the bigger malaise to which a strong foundation is being laid will remain ignored. The mob can never be held accountable. Laws alone will not help get such violence in control. Deeper sensitization and respect for law will have to spring from among people for that to happen. The root of the problem lies in proper implementation of the existing laws which can only happen if the law enforcement agencies are diligent and effective. Which they definitely are not. Unless policies and laws are made simpler and easier to understand and implement, this complex social situation is unlikely to improve.
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