By Aditya Aamir
Lynching is mob action. A ‘group of people’ lynch. So the term ‘mob lynching’ is an oxymoron. Lynching is mostly out in the open. In town and village square. In the Wild West of America it was stringing from the nearest tree. A couple or more people cook up a lie over a rumour spread like wildfire. And the falsely accused is killed by the group without trial. The choice of weapons is left to the moron: Scythe, machete, club and spear. The long rope!
A lynching can also be bloodless. Priyanka Chopra mouthing ‘Hindu terror’ in the Romeo episode of Quantico riled ‘nationalists’ enough to lynch her in Social Media. But the lynching of a businessman and a musician in Assam’s Karbi Anglong the other night was physical, bloody, and mindless. The two were lynched for being suspected child-lifters.
The same accusation/rumour worked for the lynch mob that killed several people in Jharkhand last year. Then, too, fake news of child-lifter gangs ran the gamut. This time (in Assam) the cue came from Social Media. The pleas of the businessman and musician that they were ‘Assamese’ was not heard in the din of the lynching.
Priyanka’s apology on Sunday was lame-duck. Perfunctory. Desultory. Cursory. Sabbatical. Moreover, the herd of right-leaning social media warriors were a spent force by midnight Saturday. That being said there’s a herd of a difference between herd mentality and mob mentality. Both lead to lynching, but of different sorts. If one is bloodless, the other is bloodcurdling.
For example, Congress leader Anand Sharma provoked herd mentality against 82-year-old Pranab Mukherjee by tweeting his anger against the former President’s presence at the RSS event. Congressmen erupted with memes and gifs. If there was no wholesale herd lynching it was because Pranab could not be cornered in a Congress alley.
The ex-President steered clear of Congress Street and did not name it once in his discourse, opting instead to narrate a history of India in largely non-Congress terms – in colour Indigo not saffron! The Congress sheep were not allowed the luxury of getting clothed in dyed wool. The hardy veteran Congressman with many a bout under his belt walked away with the laurels.
Later, when Pranab tweeted that dialogue between different strands of thought was what bound cultures together, Anand Sharma claimed pubescent victory and lauded Pranab for lynching the RSS in the RSS den. The ‘after the effect’ realization that Pranab was no less a Congressman than Anand Sharma cheered the Congress herd which, like all herds, wouldn’t go into different alleys!
Mob and herd mentality are basically examples of intolerance. The difference being that while the mob aims for elimination, the herd looks for culmination. Closure. The mob is made up of roughnecks. The herd is made up of incurious rubbernecks. The herd follows. The mob stations itself at the vanguard. The herd is bunched sheep. The mob is a wolf-pack.
Then there is the lone-wolf – the assassin. Lynching and assassination are two killer words in the news these days. The former is wanton, brutal. The latter is fine-tuned, deadly. Those lynched are common folk. Those in the crosshair of the assassin are leaders of men: Kings and Presidents. Prime Ministers and Chancellors. Political. Assassinations make history, shape future. In effect, they are like big trees falling!
A lynching leaves everything to chance. An assassination leaves nothing to chance: The open window 40-storeys high. The high-powered rifle on the tripod. A direct line of sight to the leader in the open Cadillac. The assassin controls his breathing. His finger on the trigger takes the pressure, ever so slowly. The bullet flies. A neat little hole. Dead of centre. The trickle of blood marks the kill!
Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy were assassinated. So was Robert Kennedy. His assassination-anniversary fell last week and Americans remembered him fondly. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and his ‘Hey Ram’ still reverberates. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were also assassinated. Now, there are reports that a group of people – styled as ‘Urban Naxals’ – were planning a ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type’ assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi!
A ‘Rajiv Gandhi-type’ assassination involves some basics: Large crowd. An assassin who is a human-bomb. She gets through tight security. Gets close to the target. And fidayeen-style blows up everyone in her vicinity, including the main target, to bits and pieces. Collateral damage. Charred bones. Gutted flesh. Mission accomplished!
The gang reportedly planning the “Modi assassination” was looking to procure high-powered rifles to spray deadly fire on a Modi roadshow. Jack Kennedy was assassinated while on the road and the attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan was also made in a somewhat similar milieu.
It goes without saying that reports of PM Modi being a target of assassins will be taken with a pinch of salt. That sort of martyrdom is generally believed to be the lot of left-leaning righteous statesman. Those with a good heart and wings of Gabriel! Angels compared to stump-made Donald Trump and Narendra Modi.
The ‘right leader’ will more likely die in bed. A victim of Alzheimer or Parkinson’s. His bigotry and his homophobia intact. In the United States, he will get his library but his statue will be toppled. Lincoln’s an exception. His iconic statue, one of the few icons of human rule that survived the eponymous Planet of Apes, which human endeavour found on its return from space.
In the current “terrifying” atmosphere of “mob lynching” the Dalit and the Maoist are on the same side. The assassins are supposed to be those with pyjama-strings tied to the RSS. So, it’s quite okay for JNU scholar Shehla Rashid – the commie girl next door of indeterminate age – to suggest that Nitin Gadkari, powered by the RSS, was planning assassination.
Yes, Shehla Rashid was there – right there in the room with alleged Maoist Rona Jacob Wilson – when Nitin Gadkari was, according to Shehla Rashid, planning the assassination of PM Modi. A Roads minister and a Roadshow! That’s one for the expressway. No need to stretch the hand for the saltshaker! (IPA Service)