Violence during Anti-Lynching Rally in Surat Demands Immediate Attention

When local outfits gathered to protest against mob lynching in different parts of India, conflict broke out between the police and the protesters.

In Gujarat’s Surat, several city based outfits had come together on the 5th of July to protest against growing instances of mob lynching against Muslims and Dalits in the nation. The police reacted to the mob by shelling and fired in the air in order to have the crowd dispersed.

In the process two policemen were also injured and two city buses were damaged. The Police allege that the mob went on a rampage and started pelting stones at the present police officers. The rally had gathered together in order to demonstrate their protest against the recent lynching of Tabrez Ansari of Jharkhand. They had not been allowed permission by the state authorities but decided to carry on the protest nevertheless.

The area where the conflict between the people who had gathered to take out a protest and the police that had been deployed to ensure that matters don’t go out of control broke out has been cordoned off for some time.  It is also to be noted that Section 144 (that prohibits more than four people from assembling at a place)has been imposed and the state has deployed extra police personnel in the area. The police have ensured that while the situation might still be tense it is nevertheless under control.

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The rally was taken out by concerned Muslim citizens and other city based outfits who wished to generate awareness and urge the government to do something about the increasing cases of mob lynching against the minorities. The recent case of a mob lynching Tabrez Ansari( Tabrez was an alleged bike thief from Jharkhand who was beaten up by a mob and died in police custody succumbing to injuries) was one of the central issues raised by the rally. The politicization of his death like all other cases of mob lynching across the last couple of years has continued to take place throughout the nation.

The rally shows people holding a banner reading ‘Versatile Minority Forum, President: Advocate Babu Pathan’.  It is to be noted that Advocate Babu Pathan is also the Vice President of the Surat City Congress Committee.  Protests that expressed Tabrez Ansari’s death took place in several other parts of the nation as well such as in Meerut, Pune and Agra.

The protests in Surat however turned quite violent as the protesters started pelting stones after being denied to take their rally forward and the police began shelling and air firing to control the mob.  The crowd was also lathi charged as they alleged that the group had not taken due permissions to take out the protest.

In a society that is civilized even one incident of lynching should be enough to ignite societal consciousness against the growing intolerance for the minority community. Ironically, in the last couple of years India has seen not one but a spate of them off late.  Those who have been pleading for an anti-lynching law say that if such a law is brought to practice it will help address the void in India’s criminal jurisprudence. We do need to enforce a law against lynching and create an environment where all citizens irrespective of religious affiliations feel safe.

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