Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Crime and Context: Lynchings in India

July 7, 2017

In his July 7, 2017 Indian Express article, Ashutosh Varshney, examines the larger comparative literature, to draw a distinction between two types of lynchings: (i) those aimed at "routine order", as in mob punishment of theft, robbery, traffic accidents, and (ii) those aimed at enforcing a "majoritarian racial/religious/ethnic order". He argues that by focusing on beef and cattle trade and thereby targeting Muslims, primarily though not exclusively, the new Indian lynchings belong to the second kind. They are aimed ate securing Hindu domination. Riots used to be a common feature of Indian politics, especially during the mid-1970s and mid-1990s. If unchecked, lynchings might well replace riots as the primary mode of communal violence.  Read the full article.