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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A sad case of mob justice

Today's newspapers had a chilling story of how villagers of Chintamani, 60 km from Bangalore, lynched some people suspected to be robbers. It was a horrendous incident. Five people travelling in an auto-rickshaw were stopped and clubbed, three of them died. At another spot, six people traveling in a Tata Sumo were pulled out and killed, and the vehicle set on fire.

The story is like this: a few people tried to rob a woman working in a field. Since she didn't have any valuables, the attackers tied her to a pole and fled the scene. She raised an alarm. People from nearby fields came and rescued her.

Based on her account, villagers began looking for an auto-rickshaw and a Tata Sumo. Once they found them, and got reasonably suspicious that the passengers were the attackers, they mounted an assault and killed them.

Apparently, people in the villages are quite upset with their security. Few trust the efficiency of the police. And they have formed vigilante groups to make sure they are secure.

But is this the way to render justice? Villagers may have their justification, but don't we have an institutionalized process to make sure that grievances are redressed? Mob justice belongs to uncivilized societies. They have no place in a modern society.

Having said this, the local administration and the government can't miss the cue. If villagers have resorted to a macabre act to render what they think is justice, then there must be a reason. The efficiency of our police system is really open to question. In many places, they are hand in glove with local power centers that have their own axes to grind.

People's confidence and faith in government machinery has to re-established. The villagers may have committed a gross crime, but the government has to see the writing on the wall, and mend its ways.

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