Lynching originated in the Bible, says Hindu leader

Mob attacks are a Western phenomenon, according to the head of a group linked to India’s ruling party
Lynching originated in the Bible, says Hindu leader

RSS leader Mohan Bhagawat says mob lynching dates back to the Bible and reports of them taking place in India are an attempt to defame the country. (Photo by Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP)

Mob lynching is not part of Indian culture but is a Western phenomenon and examples can even be found in such religious texts as the Bible, claims the head of a powerful Hindu group in India.

Mohan Bhagawat, chief of the hard-line Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was speaking at an event in Nagpur, western India, on Oct. 8 marking the 94th anniversary of the founding of the organization. The RSS is widely regarded as the parent organization of the ruling party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Lynching is a Western word, he said, but some use it to defame India.

“The term used these days is lynching — it never happened in Bharat [India]. What is the origin of this term? There is an old story regarding it, as found in other religions,” he said.

The Hindu leader cited one Biblical incident about a "woman caught in adultery" — the crowd was trying to stone her to death but Jesus Christ intervened and saved her life, Bhagawat said.

“This tradition is found in other religions,” he repeated. “In our country, we find only a tradition of brotherhood. In ancient India, Buddha stopped people from two villages from attacking each other over water issues. This is our tradition,” he said.

Bhagawat's comments came against a backdrop of complaints that Hindu mobs had attacked and killed members of minority groups such as Muslims, Christians and Dalit people, often in the name of protecting the revered cow of Hinduism.

Bhagawat dismissed the reports as biased. “There have been reports that members of a community in our society have attacked another community, making them victims of social violence. Such incidents have not been one-sided,” he said.

One Christian leader in central India, Father Maria Stephan, said Bhagavat was misquoting the Bible.

“The Biblical incident should not be compared with what is happening in our country,” said Father Stephan, public relations officer of dioceses in Madhya Pradesh state..

“Mob lynching is a reality. It shows the spread of hatred in society irrespective of the interpretations and etymology of the word used. It is orchestrated violence, carried out with impunity.”

He said unless the government took serious steps, mob attacks would continue.

Leaders of religious minorities say Hindu mob violence against minorities has increased ever since the pro-Hindu BJP came to power in 2014 and that the government had done nothing to stop it.

At least 25 people have been killed in cow-related violence since 2010, as many as 21 of them Muslims, according to a recent report by IndiaSpend, a data website.

Reports say these attacks injured at least 139 people and that more than half of the attacks were sparked by baseless rumors.

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In most cases, people were attacked accused of cow slaughter or selling beef. Cow slaughter is banned in 20 of 29 Indian states but water buffalo meat, generally called beef, is widely available and is often mistaken as cow meat, causing misunderstandings and violence.

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