Chocolate Ad. Not Made for the Lynch Mob: WhatsApp Mobs Reduce Law and Order to Naught

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WhatsApp, the messaging app is also a killer. A gatherer of mobs. Instigator of mobs. Mohammad Azam got lynched by a ‘WhatsApp mob’. Despite WhatsApp’s assurances that steps had been taken to blunt mob-takeover of the messaging app. An analysis, for Different Truths.

Looking “sophisticated” and “polished” doesn’t mean zilch to the lynch mob. And if you distribute candies and toffees to children you’re bound to be a child-lifter, get your skull cracked. This much was proven last Friday after a mob gathered by WhatsApp beat to death one young man and left two others injured in Bidar, Karnataka.

The slain man’s brother wondered how the mob could mistake his brother – a Hyderabad-techie employed with Google – for a child-lifter “when he looked so sophisticated and polished in his behaviour?” Right. The village rustic is expected to keep his distance from a Shashi Kapoor-type straying into a mud-and-thatched hamlet.

Usually, they do, too. At least, they used to do so. We’ve old Bollywood movies to prove: The hero and his friends drive into a village in his bhompu-jeep. Village women balancing pots on their heads file past, hips swinging. Barefoot village kids run after the jeep. Village men look on with indulgence reserved for the kid-goat. Except the village villain. He eyes the intruders with mean face.

Those days are gone. Village-centric movies vanished with Sholay. Nowadays, the village is pucca. Contrary to opposition claims, electricity remains for time enough to charge cellphone batteries. Smartphone, Internet, Facebook and Twitter; Instagram and WhatsApp have taken the surprise out of sophisticated and polished. The rustic is longer in awe of the Mercedes breaking down next to the sugarcane field.

Mohammad Azam’s brother Mohammd Akram must learn a lesson: Looks can’t save a man from a lynch mob. Azam entered the Bidar village with a Qatari and an Indian friend. All three must have stood out. Sophisticated and polished. But the Qatari did not know recent ‘dos and don’ts’. Don’t give sweets to children. Don’t caress child-cheeks. Don’t even smile at a girl-child. Just walk past with nose upturned, eyes straight. The children are invisible. Don’t exist.

Stay aloof to avoid getting lynched. That is if a WhatsApp message has not already informed rustic dingbats that child-lifters are coming! Do visitors to villages/towns have to report to police stations first, and be issued a ‘Not a Child Lifter’ badge on their shirtfronts? It’s as if city-types have nothing else to do other than lift children.

Simple questions such as ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Who do you want to meet in our village/town?’ and ‘Do you have ID?’ are not asked. It’s straightaway ‘kill the child-lifter’. The Qatari would never come to India again, that’s for sure, and he would spread the word. Once back home, if he hears a raised Indian voice, he might even go on the offensive.

In the Gulf, if somebody smiles at a little girl in the lift and pats her on the head, her British mom could lodge a complaint and get that somebody deported. It happened to a Pakistani a decade ago. The point is nobody gets lynched by a mob in the Gulf. The law comes into play and that’s it.

But in the India of today, the law has lost its teeth, and breadth. Nobody respects the law. Nobody is afraid of the law. There are mobs everywhere. The mob in the street. The mob in the village. The mob in the town. The mob in the train. The mob on the highway. The mob in the mind!

And WhatsApp? The messaging app is also a killer. A gatherer of mobs. Instigator of mobs. Mohammad Azam got lynched by a ‘WhatsApp mob’. Despite WhatsApp’s assurances that steps had been taken to blunt mob-takeover of the messaging app. WhatsApp is still not aware of ‘What’s Up’ because of WhatsApp!

Know this – friend and foe, Indian and foreigner – life in India these days is worth less than a busted nickel or a WhatsApp message. Don’t ever make the mistake of smiling at a child. Don’t carry candies and sweets. The Chocolate Ad was not made for the mob.

Sushil Kutty

©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet