The senseless and bone-chilling lynching of a 50-year-old man at his home in his village just about 40 kms from the national capital should jolt us as a nation.
Mohd Akhlaq and his son Danish were assaulted by a blood-thirsty mob of about a hundred of their fellow villagers just because someone announced from the local temple that a cow calf had been slaughtered in the village. Only two Muslim families live in the main village, which is predominantly a Rajput hamlet. The other house belonged to Akhlaq's elder brother, who, incidentally, was out of the village on that fateful Tuesday night. So the "angry", or the "excited" mob as the former BJP MLA from Dadri, Nawab Singh Nagar, put it, descended on Akhlaq's family like the agents of death.
The madness lasted for about 30 minutes and left, apart from an old man dead and his son in ICU, the amity of Bisara in tatters and stained in Akhlaq's and Danish's blood.
The alleged cow meat recovered from Akhlaq's fridge is now with the forensic lab and some people have been arrested by the police for the murder. A magisterial probe has been ordered. The wheels of law will turn at their own pace. The test report of "that meat" is now immaterial. "Will they bring back my father, if it doesn't turn out to be beef?" asked Akhlaq's daughter.
But the question that stares We The People in our face today is this: What took over that mob of Bisara village on that night. The law might uncover in due course who killed Akhlaq, but as a society, we have to face up to WHAT killed Akhlaq and left his son in the ICU? Was it just a gang of blood-thirsty murderers that got "excited" by an announcement from a temple? What sort of hate rushed through their minds and veins, blinding them for those 30 minutes in which they smashed a family that lived in their midst for decades, if not for generations, with brick and rods? What gripped Akhlaq's neighbours that they became deaf to this one family's cries of pain and for help? What made a young girl from the village say that this ghastly act "may be sad but will be a good deterrence for others"? Yes, the sister of an accused actually said that!
This incident cannot be seen in isolation. For months there has been a concerted effort to develop an anti-meat and anti-meat eaters' sentiment.
This latest murder should also be seen in continuity with the recent killings of rationalists and with the lynching of a Muslim man in Kanpur who was branded a Pakistani terrorist.
It tells us a lot about the kind of society we are fast turning into. Who are these people who go about "teaching lessons" to people? Who has decided that law be damned in this country? Instant and mob justice. My way or No way. Fall in line or fall out.
There is toxicity in the air. Rank majoritarianism is fast becoming order of the day. The country is sought to be divided in clear, binary, black and white Us Vs Them quarters. Live according to what is being sold as the majority view or be prepared to die. And the worst part is there are many in the real and the virtual world who dish out justifications to all the barbarities and excesses. A wave of hate has hit the country and is threatening to engulf all those who refuse to swim along.
And people seem to be happy surfing this wave at the moment. It gives a temporary politically hormonal rush but deep down are the currents of hatred that propel this wave. This hatred won't stop at the libtards, sickulars, minorities, beef eaters. It will turn against all and sundry. It won't stop till people are converted into unthinking, walking zombies who do nothing but prostate in front of the hate.
We have a tall task. To save our country, our sanity from getting drowned in this black hole of hate that churns out the mob like the one in Dadri.
There is a grand "Silence India" project going on. The only antidote to it is the noise of democracy. Shout, scream, stand up. This country is much more than a boring, unilateral, skewed narrative.
There is a mob out there. And the choice is simple. Shout it down or wait for your turn.(Mohd Asim is Senior News Editor, NDTV 24x7)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.