The Big Story: A case study

Weeks after 15-year-old Junaid was stabbed by a clutch of men on a train to Mathura, the police say they have arrested a person who has confessed to the murder. Five others, including two Delhi government employees, had already been arrested and the Haryana police had announced a Rs 2 lakh reward for information on Junaid’s killer. The arrests are a good first step. But the real test for our justice systems lies ahead, in the long process of trial and conviction. The progress in other cases of lynching is not heartening.

Nearly two years after Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, six of the 19 accused are back home after they were granted bail and the case is still inching through the local court. A number of the men accused of the murder have connections with local leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Last year, the court directed the police to lodge an FIR against Akhlaq’s family, with charges of cow slaughter. Meanwhile, the six accused of lynching cattle trader Pehlu Khan in Alwar have not been arrested. The case has seen four different investigating officers in less than two months.

And these are cases that sparked national outrage, becoming the focus of media attention for a while. In Assam, two men ferrying cattle were lynched earlier this year and the police detaining five members of the Hindu Yuva Chhatra Parishad, but the progress of that case has faded from public view. Three cases of lynching were reported from Jharkhand over the last month. In one case, a BJP leader has been arrested. If Dadri is anything to go by, prosecuting those allied with the ruling dispensation will not be easy.

In most cases of lynching, the initial surge of public outrage has ensured arrests, which create the illusion of action. But it is vital that arrests lead to fair trials, insulated from political pressures, and to convictions. Much is at stake: justice for the individual victims of lynching as well as breaking the larger culture of impunity that enables such violence.

The Big Scroll

Nishita Jha visits Junaid Khan’s village, where young men are afraid of looking “too Muslim”.

Samar Halarnkar explores the story of two lynchings and the reactions they evoked.


  1. In the Indian Express, Praveen Swami argues that the recent lynchings are remarkable for the processes that enable them.
  2. In the Hindu, Shashank Joshi examines the stand off between India and China at the trijunction in Doka La.
  3. In the Telegraph, Manini Chatterjee observes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel saw, once again, the twinning of HIndu nationalism and Zionism.


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