Following the horrifying lynching of a Muslim trader in Ramgar, Jharkand on the 30th of June by a mob of over 100 people, local women in the community have threatened to take up arms themselves to protect themselves and the community from self-styled cow protectionists or ‘gau rakshaks’.
The women said to the Hindustan Times that they will come together to pick up arms to protect themselves because they’re disillusioned with the police and don’t have faith that the police will protect them from cow vigilantes, and also believe that the government is in cahoots with them. The women say that these attacks are deliberately directed at Muslim men, and that everyone in the community is constantly afraid that male members of their family will be the next victims, and won’t come home at night. Mariam Khatun, the widow of the man who was lynched on 30th June, ominously says, “Mob justice would be meted with mob-justice.”
Judging by the sheer number of brutal lynchings and murders we’ve seen in the last year, and especially over the last two months, allegedly over possession of beef but really just spewing from a bigoted, communal hatred, it isn’t surprising that Muslims feel victimised and afraid. In the face of the complete failure of State machinery to put an end to religious-based violence, particularly around the issue (or excuse) of cow protection, it looks like women are looking inwards for protection from majoritarian violence.
Nothing about this is good, and this story only tells us to expect more dark times of violence, and creating cycles of religion-based violence and revenge isn’t going to end well for anyone.