Deaths, foretold

News, now:

Two Muslim men herding eight buffaloes on their way to a local Friday market were bashed up and hanged to death from a tree by unknown assailants at Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from here, in the wee hours on Friday. The buffaloes were freed by the men and locals claimed the assailants were Hindu radicals.

The deceased Muhammad Majloom, 35, was a relative of Azad Khan alias Ibrahim who is around 15-years-old. The two had their hands tied together behind and their mouth was closed with a cloth. “The sight suggested that the two of them were subjected to extreme levels of brutality. It means that the assailants were moved by extreme hatred,” a police officer said.

In Jhabbar village of Balumath the sight of the hanging men engaged in cattle trade, sparked protests by locals. The protests turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies. SDO Kamleshwar Narayan and six cops were injured when locals pelted stones at officials who arrived in the morning to manage the situation and ensure that it does not take communal turn.

This is what happens when you inflame passions for your own narrow political ends. When you indulge in the politics of cheap populism. When you play the “religious sentiment” card to disguise the fact that you have nothing of substance to hang your politics, your appeal, on.

This is what happens when you let the genie out of the bottle. People die.

Arrested over a rumour

Remember this news story I had linked to earlier in the day?:

Meanwhile, a tried and tested pattern manifests again. At a private university in Mewar, Rajasthan, “rumours are floated” that a few Kashmiri students are cooking and eating beef. A scuffle results. Assorted — and unnamed — “Hindu religious groups” arrive at the venue and raise slogans. Thankfully, the police manage to defuse this particular manufactured crisis.

It now turns out the four students involved — who were beaten up when the rumour first surfaced — have been arrested.

Police rushed to the site and arrested four students under Section 151 of CrPC (arrest to prevent commission of cognisable offences) on Tuesday.

Say what? They were arrested to prevent the commission of cognisable offences? Which would be what, exactly?The Station House Officer of the concerned police station says:

The Station House Officer of the concerned police station says:

“We also collected the sample of the meat, which prima facie does not appear to be beef. However, the samples have been sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for testing and the report is awaited.” he said.

Someone starts a rumour. The police says prima facie, there is no truth to the allegation. And it is the victims of the rumour who are arrested, not the ones who spread it and created a situation that led to actual violence and the possibility of more?

We’ve been banging on about whether there is tolerance in this country. “Where is the intolerance? Show me the intolerance!”, the apologists for the lunatic fringe keep yelling from every available podium.

The hell with that — it is time to reframe the question. And to ask:

Is there due process in this country?