Skip to comments.Where lynching is the order of the day (Vigilantism is BAD).
Posted on 09/13/2007 8:26:58 AM PDT by Jedi Master Pikachu
Vigilante justice appears to have become the order of the day in the lawless northern Indian state of Bihar.
The latest incident in which 10 men suspected to be thieves were lynched by a group of villagers in Vaishali district on Thursday underscored the people's frustration with the police.
The villagers said that they were fed up with rising theft for the last two months in spite of informing the police regularly.
"But when the police did not take any action we started patrolling our village ourselves to catch the thieves. Today we succeeded in catching them and did justice then and there," said a villager who preferred to remain unnamed.
The villagers of Vaishali are not the only ones to dish out vigilante justice to suspected thieves and burglars in Bihar.
Two weeks ago, in bustling Bhagalpur town, a mob nearly beat to death a man who was accused of snatching a gold chain from a woman.
What was more shocking was the fact that the incident took place in the presence of two policemen who were filmed by a local news channel dragging the man on their motorcycle.
On 9 September alone, there were three particularly horrific cases of public lynchings and beatings.
First, three suspected motorcycle thieves were caught by villagers in Nawada district and brutally beaten up with sticks, stones and metal rods.
The enraged mob even gouged out an eye of one of the suspects, Tinku Singh, with a pointed iron tool. The three men were taken to hospital.
Then, two men caught stealing material at a thermal power station in Begusarai district were beaten up by locals in the presence of policemen.
They were later shot dead by unknown persons - and the locals said the police had fired on them. The police deny killing the men.
And in Nawada district, two children, aged 13 and 12 years, were beaten up by locals and paraded with their heads shaved for allegedly stealing salt and detergents from a local grocery where they were employed.
Such mob anger is not restricted to the villages alone.
Some six months ago, people in the Sultanganj area in the state capital, Patna, lynched a suspected criminal in full public view.
Earlier, three alleged criminals were nearly beaten to death in the posh Rajendra Nagar of the capital. The police arrived and allegedly shot them dead in front of a cheering mob.
Bihar has been India's most lawless state for many years now, and a change in government two years ago doesn't seem to have improved matters much.
Have the people lost their faith in the police completely to indulge in such wanton acts of vigilante justice?
"No, it means that under the present regime, people have become more confident and daring. They do not fear the criminals now," state home secretary Afzal Amanullah says.
Social scientist Shaibal Gupta does not agree.
"This only reveals the state of Bihar. People think justice will not be delivered. So they resort to instant justice by lynching the culprit," he says.
It is true that there has been no let-up in the public complaints against police inaction in the state.
Last Monday, at his weekly meeting with members of the public, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar received some 1,600 complaints against police officials.
"There is still a lot to do to reform the police. They are not pro-people," admitted Mr Kumar.
Even after his government tried to restore sagging public confidence in the police with a range of new measures - speedy trials, giving police a free hand to conduct investigations and appointing new officers in many districts - crime remains stubbornly high.
For example, a total of 4,849 cases of kidnappings were registered in the state between July 2006 and June 2007, according to a report presented in the local high court recently.
More than 2,000 people were abducted in the state in the first half of this year.
"The new regime seems to have failed to stem the crime wave," says businessman Ashish Kumar.
Bihar opposition leader Shyam Rajak says people have "no option, but to lynch criminals" when crime is so high.
It would seem that Bihar needs to tackle crime on a war footing to restore the people's confidence in the police and the criminal justice system.
The title of this article, at the time of posting, on the BBC website: “Where lynching is the order of the day” .
Asia pinglist ping.
Its bad? Doesn’t that depend on which side the noose your neck is on as to if it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
I thought it might be about Gaza / West Bank where suspected palis suspected of collaboration with Israeli are lynched.
Justice is something for the government to mete out, not an angry mob.
If the government is not doing its job, India has a representative form of government, and they can vote in a more responsible government.
In retrospect, something specifying India should have also gone in the parentheses in the title.
It’s good to live in the United States, where if you’re accused you at least have a chance at a fair trial.
Bump to that.
According to an Indian friend of mine, Bihar is the Indian equivalent of West Virginia.
In every case without exception vigilantism is an expression of the failure of an inadequate or corrupt government and ineffective or nonexistent law enforcement. Blame these, not the citizens. If the law is "in their own hands" it is because it was put there.
No doubt true in the abstract. But when the thieves and killers are right outside your door the view tends, I believe, to take on a certain urgency and the next election cycle becomes far less important than simply ensuring you and your family can live unmolested.
The main problem with vigilante justice is that sometimes it is not just at all. The wrong fellow is strung up or a member or members of the vigilance group takes advantage of the situation to exact revenge on an enemy who committed no crime. Governments make the same mistakes and commit the same crimes but we entertain the hope that the process has enough oversight and accountability built in to keep such miscarriages to a minimum. But it should be pointed out that not all governments are equally rigorous in keeping the system upright.
If I lived in a country where police and courts are arbitrary, corrupt and generally unreliable I think I might be very much tempted to take matters into my own hands. And if others shared my concerns I would join with them. I would try and make things as just as possible and in some places that would be an improvement over the “justice” meted out by corrupt police, judges and government officials.
If I read history correctly societies will normally adhere to the rule of law IF the rule of law exists at all. Generally it seems that vigilantes crop up where government fails or is virtually non-existent. In those cases to appeal to the government is a waste of time and maybe even dangerous.
The same rights also exist in India-but the legal process is agonisingly slow & conviction rates are abysmal(15%).Combine this with the fact that Bihar is about 25 years behind the rest of India on almost all indicators makes mob justice seem attractive.
It's all in the definition. If vigilantism is a mindless angry lynch mob, as Hollywood defines it, then it is bad. If vigilantism is committees of citizens deliberatively bringing law and order and safety to an area without law and order and safety, as in many instances of American history, then it is good.
Vigilantes was the name of the vigilantes in California.
(Too many FReepers seem to believe that setup would be "justice")
I see vigilantism as a last resort, and I suspect these people do, too. When it gets to this point, the "justice" angle is secondary to the "deterrence" factor.
If the government is not doing its job, India has a representative form of government, and they can vote in a more responsible government.
Right. In the meantime, people still have every right -- and in many case, an OBLIGATION -- to protect their lives an property as they see fit.
Indians seem more benign than their Asian counterparts, the Mohammedans, but the more I read about India the more it seems their culture is equally as twisted as Islam.
The lynchings of Blacks in the South during the first 30 years of the 20th Century was the result of a inadequate or corrupt government? The vigilantism I speak of was certainly not people taking the law into their own hands because the laws weren't being adequately enforced by government, it was hatred, pure and simple.
I’m with you. Vigilantism arises when government breaks down and ceases to perform its proper function. It is not the ideal.
Reading the story, you can see some of the problems with vigilantism. Is the best solution to rampant theft to catch the thieves and put out their eyes, or torture and kill them? I don’t think so.
On the other hand, letting thieves run rampant and doing nothing about it is even worse. The preferred solution is to get a better government. But realistically that isn’t always possible. The second-best solution might be a more just form of vigilantism, better organized, in which thieves are punished but with some reasonable approach to justice rather than uncontrolled mob fury, such as flogging them instead of blinding or killing them. The idea is to persuade them not to do it again, but to go into some other line of business. Repeat offenses might be treated accordingly.
In other words, you need an unofficial justice system if you can’t have an official one, not a lynch mob.
Montana had vigilantes too. They were organized committees of citizens who captured, tried, and hanged criminals. There are those who criticize their conduct and results but at the time Montana was unsafe territory where many suspected Sheriff Plummer of being in cahoots with the roadagente. He and many others were tried and executed.
No system of justice is perfect and where there is no system or a hopelessly inept or corrupt system then direct citizen action is undertaken to safeguard life and property. They do not function as well as a formal, honest system and therefore often commit their own crimes. But they make the bad guys think twice in places where ther is no law.
Having never lived in a truly lawless environment I find it hard to criticize people who take extereme measures to safeguard their community. The government needs to step up and do its job to stop this and this wouldn’t happen.
Yes. I admit that I was thinking and wondering about our own system of justice when I wrote that.
Vigilantism is never the best solution. But systems of justice are always imperfect, too. America has better justice than most nations in history, but it’s very far from perfect. You have rampant political corruption in most states and municipalities, and you have activist ideological judges in most courts, as seems to be the case with the decision you mention.
Since when is the testimony of one criminal against another not admissible in court? The job of the jury and the lawyers is to weigh such evidence and decide how credible it is. But I have never heard of the idea that you can’t get one criminal to testify against another. Preposterous.
All that aside from the beastliness of the crime. No doubt the released criminal will now go into business, with the judges’ compliments, running a preschool service. This is the kind of decision that strongly tempts people to turn to vigilante justice.
The lynchings you speak of had nothing to do with what is commonly understood to be vigilante activity.
I agree that torture is wrong, but I have no problem with executing thieves. They are a plague.
A disgusting practice, then and now...
“When the Mob rules, it lynches” -— Jose Ortega Y Gasset
Sometimes it "is" a good thing, when the only alternatives are worse.
"Justice is something for the government to mete out, not an angry mob."
See above, somethmes the government will NOT do it's job, and sometimes government IS the problem.
"If the government is not doing its job, India has a representative form of government, and they can vote in a more responsible government."
Sometimes that isn't possible, even with a supposedly "representative form of government". To say otherwise is a nice idealistic sentiment.
Some freepers support actual vigilantism. As some here have pointed out, that could be because there is not other reasonable way. But even if vigilantism is inevitable, the group of people should have a set of rules that they follow when hunting down, prosecuting, and punishing criminals.
If you've read the section, you will see little there which opposes what the Minutemen do, chiefly watch the border and report to the government (via the border patrol) when they spot an illegal alien, which is perfectly legal--vigilantism is not.
As someone who spent some years in remote, sparsely populated areas I can tell you that this was usually the case. When law enforcement was hours away and often not available for anything but major crimes, ad hoc groups would form. I never saw any of the mob mentality that is depicted in movies but usually older and very somber and sober respected citizens would meet to consider the situation.
The deliberations were probably more intense than actual jury trials. Each man knew that he was putting his name and reputation on the line. There would be no legal games and no absolution before God if they were in error. They most often tended to the minimum practical solution to the problem, most often a warning that the transgressors crimes were known and that they would stop immediately or the criminals would face the wrath of the community. Usually that stopped the behavior.
If that didn't work, the subject would have a visit by a group of very serious and very fit men with a final warning as a demonstration of what they were facing. From there things would escalate rapidly. There would probably be a beating. Then there would be a notice that their presence was no longer desirable in the county. Then there would be a 24 hour deadline to leave town. Then...
Rarely did things go past steps one or two. It was efficient and effective and I never, ever, saw it abused.
Appreciated, for the information.
It has always been understood government is a social contract. The individual cedes a measure of his natural law right to self defense to the government in return for impartial enforcement of natural law. The extent to which goverment refuses to enforce natural law is the extent to which said government has deviated from legitimacy.
When governments renege on their obligation to the terms of the social contract, the right to self defense devolves back to the individual.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans living today are victims of a false view of reality composed of television cliches'.
“Hollywood style” vigilantism still exists—as evidenced by the article, even if rational vigilantism does, too.
Did I miss something about innocent victims being lynched?
Were the punishments given out of a sense of law and justice, or out of whipped up fury and revenge?
What is the evidence in the article you are pointing to for “hollywood style” vigilantism?
I hear ya, FRiend. I had one of those this morning, after my 3rd cup of coffee....
.....and also a fair chance to get away with high profile murder if you are a big shot like O J Simpson.
Having a trial is not the same as delivering justing.