Vigilantism, which can be also termed as ‘mob justice’, takes place when a citizen or an angry mob take the law into their hands to deliver justice when a state or court couldn’t.
Here are all the reasons and incidents which motivates the vigilantes to resort to lawlessness:
In any country, citizens are entitled to safe and secure environment and protection from social evils. Government, leaders and police force are entrusted with the responsibility to protect the citizens especially those who are most vulnerable like children, women and minorities. But, that’s not the case in remote districts, where due to corruption and half-hearted attitude of the officials, performing duties and enforcing laws often takes a back seat. Which means more crime and no stringent action.
This is exactly what triggered the formation of the biggest women vigilante group in the world- Gulabi Gang. When the founder, Sampat Pal Devi, saw a woman being brutally beaten up by her husband and the police just watching the drama, she had decided to take revenge. Next day, she and a group of other women beat up the accuser in public and from that day, till date- they have been fighting crime against women. Likewise, another women vigilante group called the Red Brigade in Lucknow, which arose as a response of lack of law enforcement against attackers. The members of the brigade are taught martial arts so that instead of depending on the police (who are unresponsive) they can deal with such accusers themselves.
State’s inadequacy in handling disorder within a society, lack of government response to a particular group or issue, inability to maintain law and order, political or societal instability or failure of the state to deliver justice – are some factors that trigger the formation of vigilante groups in a society.
So, when the government fails to do its job, the vigilantes assume their duty and bring in the necessary change in the society. That was the case in the city of Bangalore. Frustrated with tonnes of garbage due to lack of waste management facilities, the citizens have taken extreme steps in a bid to end this issue. The government has taken little steps towards strategic planning for waste management and adopting scientific infrastructure for waste disposal. The issue rose to an extreme level when 4 vigilantes nearly thrashed an auto driver to death for tossing a paper into a heap of garbage. They tied him to a pole and started assaulting him with a wooden stick. So, lack of government’s response coupled with unsatisfied and angry citizens gives rise to vigilantism which, even though for the wellbeing of the society, can land up hurting many.
It takes a few motivational speeches by a political leader or rumours circulated on Whatsapp to brainwash many, many heads into believing for or against something. In India, political leaders driven by the caste-based factor, use their citizens to propagate their objectives and ideology. Religion, culture and caste are the popular weapons used by the leaders to get people favour them.
For instance, the beef ban which was imposed under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government sparked a nationwide debate, followed by formation of various cow vigilantes groups around the country. These groups – motivated by the right-wing parties – indulged in lynching, abuse and killings of minorities on the mere belief that they were consuming or selling beef which was banned by the government. As per experts, these self-appointed cow protectors are driven by irresponsible populism and indulge in terrorizing minority communities like Muslims and Dalits. In a country like ours, where religion and culture enjoy the topmost position, there is little room for rationality which clearly seems to be lacking in a situation like this.
Minority communities like Dalits, tribals, Muslims or LGBT are often the ones subject to harsh treatment and atrocities. Not just from the other castes and communities, but from the authorities and police forces who look down upon them. For instance, a number of Dalits have been stripped naked and tortured by the officials who refuse to take the crime against them seriously. Cases of suppressing the right of minorities are not just seen in India but all around the world. While in India, the minorities have not been
Seeing no way to restore their pride and dignity, these victims resort to vigilantism. That was the case back in 1973, when Rev Ray, founder of the LGBT vigilante group Lavender Panthers, was beaten up by regressive cops outside his gay community center. All it took him was 2 days to start Lavender Panthers, a group which patrolled in the streets of Sans Francisco to protect their fellowmen from being subject to violation and crime.
Are you for or against vigilantes? Well, we guess the quiz might help you decide