South Asians for Human Rights, a regional network of human rights defenders, condemns the violent assault of activist Swami Agnivesh, the latest in a trend of mob violence including lynching and cow vigilantism in India.
On 17 July 2018, Swami Agnivesh was leaving a hotel in Jharkhand when he was set upon by a mob of men who beat him severely while hurling verbal abuse. His clothes and turban were also torn off, as seen in video footage of the assault. Agnivesh claims that his attackers included members of the BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Janata YuvaMorcha (BJYM).
The incident is the latest high profile case in a series of mob-fuelled vigilante attacks driven by rumours and religious, cultural and political assertion in recent years. According to Daily News and Analysis, 65 people have been lynched to death since 2015.
SAHR notes that India’s Supreme Court has urged Parliament to enact laws specifically to stem the rise of what has been termed a “mobocracy”. In a 45 page statement the Supreme Court stated that, “Rising intolerance and growing polarisation cannot be permitted to become the normal way of life.”
SAHR calls for a swift and impartial investigation into the assault of Swami Agnivesh, and the trial and prosecution of all those involved. Further, SAHR echoes the Supreme Court of India’s calls on the Government of India to implement strict anti-lynching laws that recognise the uniquely brutal and political nature of these crimes.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR):