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Anger is Valid, But Mobs Shouldn’t Dispense Justice

As crimes rise, we should also guard against thoughts of vigilantism, warn experts

Published: 11th November 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th November 2014 11:14 PM   |  A+A-

Rajasthan

BENGALURU : Amid the spate of sexual assaults on primary school children in Bengaluru, many parents want personally to teach the rapists a lesson. And in Rajasthan, a mob cut off a man's penis after he allegedly attempted to rape a minor girl.

Why do ordinary citizens suddenly become police, judge and executioner? What turns them into vigilantes?

Anjula Gurtoo, associate professor, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), defines a mob as people who come together on the spur of the moment. Emotions run high among them and they make irrational decisions, she explains.

"People join mobs because being backed by a crowd gives them courage. Sometimes, they also take out their personal frustrations. Fear and intimidation are the biggest tools at their disposal," she says.

In the case of the man who allegedly attempted rape, she says it is good that people came together and caught him.

"They should, however, have taken him to the police station instead of the butcher's shop," she said.

Theatre experimentalist ArchBENGALURU : Amid the spate of sexual assaults on primary school children in Bengaluru, many parents want personally to teach the rapists a lesson. And in Rajasthan, a mob cut off a man's penis after he allegedly attempted to rape a minor girl.

Why do ordinary citizens suddenly become police, judge and executioner? What turns them into vigilantes?

Anjula Gurtoo, associate professor, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), defines a mob as people who come together on the spur of the moment. Emotions run high among them and they make irrational decisions, she explains.

"People join mobs because being backed by a crowd gives them courage. Sometimes, they also take out their personal frustrations. Fear and intimidation are the biggest tools at their disposal," she says.

In the case of the man who allegedly attempted rape, she says it is good that people came together and caught him.

"They should, however, have taken him to the police station instead of the butcher's shop," she said.

Theatre experimentalist Archana Kumar recently staged a performance titled Monki C Monki Do at Rangoli Metro Art Center. Using a prop made of shards of mirror, she explored societal conditioning and mob mentality.

"We like to think that we are highly evolved beings, but deep down, we are all monkeys. At a traffic junction, when one person jumps the stop signal, many others get the courage to follow suit. Similarly, in the company of other men, some feel the urge to catcall a passer-by woman. Homogeneity gives people a sense of power," she explains.

In December 2012, city-based playwright Swar Thounaojam was harassed by a mob at Netkallappa Circle in the presence of a traffic constable.

After a two-wheeler had rammed into her car at the signal, she was asked to park and get off. And when she did, the constable allegedly abused her, while the men on the two-wheeler were allowed to leave.

She says she was sexually harassed by a mob. The city police eventually came to her rescue and she filed FIRs against the constable and the men who harassed her. The case is pending.

"Random passers-by joined the mob at the scene. Such a big group of men could have called the cop out on his misbehaviour, but instead they chose to harass me," says Thounaojam.

Joint Commissioner of Police Hemanth Nimbalkar advises people to go about it peacefully.

"In case of a crime, people should file a complaint with us and wait for the law to take its course. There is also a peaceful way of protesting against issues. People can take permission from the police and assemble at a public space to express their opinions in a civil manner," he says.ana Kumar recently staged a performance titled Monki C Monki Do at Rangoli Metro Art Center. Using a prop made of shards of mirror, she explored societal conditioning and mob mentality.

"We like to think that we are highly evolved beings, but deep down, we are all monkeys. At a traffic junction, when one person jumps the stop signal, many others get the courage to follow suit. Similarly, in the company of other men, some feel the urge to catcall a passer-by woman. Homogeneity gives people a sense of power," she explains.

In December 2012, city-based playwright Swar Thounaojam was harassed by a mob at Netkallappa Circle in the presence of a traffic constable.

After a two-wheeler had rammed into her car at the signal, she was asked to park and get off. And when she did, the constable allegedly abused her, while the men on the two-wheeler were allowed to leave.

She says she was sexually harassed by a mob. The city police eventually came to her rescue and she filed FIRs against the constable and the men who harassed her. The case is pending.

"Random passers-by joined the mob at the scene. Such a big group of men could have called the cop out on his misbehaviour, but instead they chose to harass me," says Thounaojam.

Joint Commissioner of Police Hemanth Nimbalkar advises people to go about it peacefully.

"In case of a crime, people should file a complaint with us and wait for the law to take its course. There is also a peaceful way of protesting against issues. People can take permission from the police and assemble at a public space to express their opinions in a civil manner," he says.



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