I am a badly frightened man. With each passing day, I watch the society in which I live descend into savagery.
Ahimsa paramodharma. Non-violence is the ultimate religion.
So said a man whom we venerate as the Father of our nation. He died a violent death himself, ironically. The violence that followed the death of this apostle of non-violence claimed dozens of innocent lives and underlined the importance of his message.
It is a message that never seems to get through in our country.
Mob justice is for savages. Violence leads to more violence. Revenge leads to more revenge.
I’ve seen what happened in India in 1975, what happened in 1984, what happened in 1992, 2002, 2004, 2015, 2016.
I’ve watched buses being burnt, shops being looted, men being hacked, women being stoned, children being terrorised. I’ve had friends sobbing on my shoulder as they told me their personal stories of horror and brutality.
Even in the cyberworld, or especially in it, the savagery is genuinely frightening. Social websites bring out the worst in people. My friends on Facebook post ghastly stuff on my timeline, gory pictures of maimed human beings, scary sermons of savagery.
Recently, some whacko in Chennai did something cruel to a feral dog, and posted a video on Facebook. And the entire nation erupted, as people poured out violent invective against him. Kill him, hang him, castrate him, burn him, throw him off a roof, rip off his head.
The man was arrested, but that didn’t satisfy anyone. The invective just got worse. Jail is not enough, hang him. No, hanging him is not enough, first torture him. It went on and on.
Yesterday, someone posted a story about an alleged rape victim who chopped off her attacker’s penis, before he could penetrate her with it. The man is now in critical care and fighting for his life. And once again, the invective was scary in its intensity. What was even more scary in this case, was the cruel joy that many women showed in their messages. Well done, he deserved it, all men must have their dicks chopped off, and much much worse.
Hundreds of men in India get trapped in false rape cases and are ruined for life. How come no one says we should chop off the private parts of women who file these fake rape cases?
India leads the rest of the world in the number of deaths due to dog bites. Twenty thousand Indians die of rabies each year. How come no one says we should burn those rabid dogs, chop their heads, rip their nuts off?
What’s happening to our society? Mob justice, violent invective, brutality, savage glee. Riding on the pavement. Breaking traffic lights. Running over elderly pedestrians. Throwing garbage into the neighbour’s yard. Chucking beer bottles on the road. Midnight rave parties. Blaring loudspeakers. Bhajans through the night. Firecrackers at odd hours. Defecating in public. Urinating before children.
If someone says something nasty, beat him. Someone eats something that you don’t like, lynch him. Someone looks different and dresses differently, strip her. Someone has a god’s image tattooed on his leg, break it. Kill. Maim. Dismember. Decapitate.
Mind you, not all these savages who bay for their fellow human’s blood are illiterate roadside thugs. Some of them are my friends on Facebook, educated people in corporate jobs, people I eat and drink with, people I share my city and my life with.
And that is exactly what frightens me. It’s only a question of time before these savages turn on me. Only a matter of time before my maimed and mangled body appears on someone’s timeline and everyone posts messages saying I deserved it.
We were always a society that found it easy to justify gratuitous violence. We are rapidly becoming a society that gleefully celebrates savagery.
Mera Bharat Mahaan.