RSS is, admittedly, a socio-cultural organisation doing service to the nation. Fact is also that, often, the bad deeds associated with it or entities attached to it get more publicity. So with the foundation day event linked to Vijayadashami at its Nagpur headquarters on Tuesday. RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat might have said many good things in a spirit of nationalism, but what hogged publicity was his reference to the incidents of “lynching” in India – which were quite a few in recent times. He said lynching was not part of the culture of Bharat and has its origin in other religions abroad.

The context is clear. A set of over 70 “intellectuals” or those in the creative and entertainment field recently wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to check incidents of lynching. Soon, some cases were filed at an individual level against these worthies. The Leftists and the Opposition rallied behind these intellectuals, as was only to be expected. It was also likely that prompting for the letter came from politically motivated leaders targeting the NDA government at the Centre.

The point to stress here is that acts of group violence and killings in heinous manners happen everywhere irrespective of whether or not there was any religious link to them. This happens more in unruly societies, not in societies like, say, in Singapore. India is a melting pot – of cultures, religions, castes and races. Unruly elements are there, here and everywhere. It is up to the law and order machinery to effectively control such situations. Worse situations were presented in relation to the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. Worst acts of torture or lynching happened in recent times against Dalits in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while Muslim individuals were targeted in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the name of cow protection.

Those like Shashi Tharoor MP or Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen have a point when they reminded the RSS chief that he was missing the woods for the trees. The issue was essentially of inhuman and cruel acts, and of ways at checking this. Where lynching had its origin, or an analysis of the origin of the term lynching is beside the point.  In other words, the RSS chief might be accused of diverting public attention from the central issue. What was expected of him was to condemn such acts, so that the right message goes out to the society. He stopped short of doing this.

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