WhatsApp Rumours, Indian State and Indians

WhatsApp rumours lead to the death of 29 fellow citizens. India is diverse, different languages, different cultures; I had wondered what holds India together. WhatsApp rumours and its tragic results are giving me the answer – Our stupidity. Lynching has happened across the length and the breadth of the country. The responses, all throughout, are equally inane and shirking the responsibility.

Government’s Response

The government gave a clarion call to the popular messaging app asking it to take immediate measures to prevent the spread of “irresponsible and explosive messages”. Expressing “deep disapproval”, the government called for “necessary remedial measures” and “immediate action” to stem the flow of misinformation.

Now, the only issue is that as per WhatsApp, WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp. Now, with this much of clarity, what is WhatsApp expected to do? It might as well do something, but that is not the point.

What I understand is that Indian State is delegating its responsibility for maintaining law and order to a third party – a messaging platform.

Anyways, Indian State believes in shooting the messenger and not heed to the message.

The message

The underlying notion – Indian State cannot be relied upon for taking care of one’s family – children in this case. There is no Police or Judiciary that can be trusted upon, leave aside the political leaders. We shall trust only those who look like us, speak like us and are one among us. Rest all, we shall see with doubt and with a hint of suspicion, we shall lynch them. I know I am exaggerating, but unless we eradicate this belief of behaving like a mob and delivering instant justice, I shudder to think where this will stop.

Role of Political Leaders

29 people have died. Apart from WhatsApp bashing, I have not come across any credible response from the so-called leaders. What should lead to a national debate, there is no voice of concern, rather no mention at all. This is across the parties – national and regional. What can be the reason? People are getting killed and no criticism of perpetrators or hand-holding of victims’ families?

Prime Minister talks to the nation in his Mann Ki Baat, and there is no mention of this at all. If he will not give us the message of peace and to believe in his administration, who will?

The Media

Apart from the headline on the day of the crime, the media conveniently forget about it. There is no juice in the victims’ stories or the people involved in the misdeed.

Jayant Sinha – Setting a role-model

Jayant Sinha has done an unthinkable – he garlanded and welcomed 8 people who were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court. They were released on bail by the State High Court pending an appeal. Sinha did what he did and said that he was honouring the law. No idea, where this is going to lead us all to. After all, a movie glorifying a convicted criminal – Sanju is the current blockbuster.

Us, Indians

I have not come across any report of a social scientist/researcher on why we are behaving the way we are. If not for WhatsApp, we would have believed some wall paintings, leaflets, loose talks and resorted to what we are doing. The victims, barring the 2 people killed in Assam, were from lower strata of the society – not like us. The people indulging in crime also come from lower strata of the society – not like us. This “not like us” syndrome is creating a void in the society and there is no understanding of what we think and the direction we are taking, as a nation.

Conclusion

Blaming WhatsApp for something that we have done will allow us to look good in the mirror. The truth is that we are getting rotten as a society with no belief in set-up systems. And the set-up systems are exactly behaving like what we believe it to be – Non-functional. Our leaders do not own up nor do we as a civil society.

Where are we, Indians and the Indian State heading to?

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