It’s been six weeks since I last blogged about mob violence. I’ve been away most of that time, but no matter where we go or what we’re doing, collective violence continues in many forms. Below are some of the latest incidents reported as mob violence or mob justice. (And here’s why I’m doing it.)
August to the present (also December 2007, and in 1999): Violence against Christians continues in Orissa, on India’s east coast, since the 23 Aug. assassination of a Hindu swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his followers: “Though Maoist insurgents took credit for the killing, Hindu extremists blamed Christians. They mounted mob attacks on churches, as well as homes and villages populated by Christians. More than 100 people reportedly have been beaten, hacked or burned to death since the mob violence began. It is estimated tens of thousands of Christians have fled their homes, many remaining in seclusion in forests and others in relief camps with police guards. … Christians reportedly make up about 2.4 percent of the state’s 36.7 million people.” A BBC news report mentions the religious rivalry of the region: “Hindu groups have long accused Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to convert to Christianity. Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape the Hindu caste system.” More at Orissa Burning, at Legacy Matters, and in the NY Times.
12 Oct. 2008, Andhra Pradesh, India: “Even before Friday’s communal fire could be doused, six members of a family, including three children, were burnt alive after their tile-roofed house was engulfed in a mysterious fire in a village near here in the strife-torn Adilabad district in the early hours of Sunday.” Relatives allege “that Mahboob Khan’s family members were killed and later burnt to death by pouring kerosene on them.” The incident is under investigation.
Previously, 12km away in Bhainsa town, “three people were killed when a Durga idol immersion procession was passing by a mosque, where Friday prayers were being offered. Two of the three killed … were from the minority community and they were stabbed to death. Twenty-five people had been injured too.” Andhra Pradesh home minister K Jana Reddy appealed for calm and “he urged people to stay away from rumour mongers.”
8 Oct. 2008, Dhule, Mumbai, India: “The communal riots that erupted in Dhule on Sunday afternoon have claimed six lives so far. Eight others were injured in the riots which broke out after two groups clashed over the tearing of posters. … Eighty-six were injured in mob violence.” The area is about 75% Hindu and 25% Muslim. “Residents said that 10-15 houses were set ablaze near the Juna Devpur Eintbhatti area and the wall of Agna mosque was demolished by the rioters. … ‘The police became mute spectators as rioters pelted stones and put property on fire. They could not be controlled.'”
1 Oct. 2008, Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia: “A group of men beat to death a suspected motorcycle thief on Saturday in what appeared to be mob justice. The 30-year-old man was attacked by a group of 20 to 30 men. … The suspected thief, from Dungun, had prior convictions and was also believed to have been a drug addict.” Four men, aged between 30 and 40, are being held for murder.
30 Sept. 2008, Norwich City Centre, East Anglia, UK: “Three men have been arrested over the murder of a millionaire banker who tried to save a homeless Lithuanian man being assaulted by a mob.” Frank McGarahan, 45, died from head injuries suffered when intervening to help: “[A]s Mr McGarahan shouted at the gang of ten men to stop, they turned on him. In the fracas, he suffered a serious head injury.”
27 Sept. 2008, Meetiyagoda, Sri Lanka: “In a tragic incident, a six-year-old boy was burnt to death in his sleep when an angry mob set fire to a house in Meetiyagoda on Thursday night following a dispute with his parents. … Police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara told the Daily Mirror the parents and the victim had gone to attend a wedding in the Bataduwa area on Thursday evening. In the night the father had come home along with the child and gone back to the wedding after the child went to sleep. He had got involved in a brawl there, reportedly after consuming liquor. The brawl had taken serious proportions forcing him to flee the area and hide in the jungle. The angry group had stormed his house and set fire to it unaware of the presence of the sleeping child. The house which was made out of wattle and daub was swiftly gutted by fire.”
26 Sept. 2008, Delhi, India: “Lalit Choudhary, 47, died on Monday of head wounds after being attacked by a mob at the Graziano Transmissioni car parts factory in Delhi. He’d been attempting to resolve a long-standing dispute with workers who had demanded better pay and permanent contracts, and some of whom had been sacked for their trouble. However, a meeting with former employees turned seriously nasty and ‘the unemployed men began vandalising the machinery, turning on Choudhary when he tried to reason with them’. … Around 125 dismissed workers armed with iron rods barged into the factory and went on rampage. When Lalit tried to pacify them, they assaulted him with rods.” More at The Register.
7 Sept. 2008, Paris, France: From the Jerusalem Post: “Three counselors from the Bnei Akiva youth movement were attacked not far from the organization’s central branch in Paris on Saturday afternoon. The boys, aged between 17 and 18, had just finished the minha prayer when they were attacked by a group of Muslims. … [T]he youths were initially approached by a group of three Muslim/African immigrants who began to throw chestnuts in their direction. When one of the counselors asked them why they were being attacked, the assailants began shouting anti-Semitic remarks. Ten to 12 attackers wearing brass knuckles joined the original three and beat the three Jews until police arrived.” The victims sustained a broken nose, broken jaw, and lacerations.
6 Sept. 2008, Birmingham, England, UK: “A father died after being slashed across the face and then repeatedly stabbed on his own doorstep by a mob in front of his teenage son. Odd job man Jeff Parry, 44, was left dying in a pool of blood after the frenzied attack. Neighbours in Bromford, Birmingham, yesterday claimed he had been a victim of mob justice — targeted after being accused of stealing a handbag. They said he answered the door to a group of men who lashed out, cut his face and stabbed him seven times.” (That’s the entire article.) So far, three boys/men have been charged, one 16 years old.
28 Aug. 2008, Nabbingo, Uganda, Africa: “The Police in Nabbingo, Wakiso district, battled with residents after they pounced on two suspected chicken thieves and killed one of them. Sadala Kiwanuka, a carpenter of Kawempe, was killed, while his colleague Bulana of Bwaise was rescued by the Police from the mob and taken to Mulago Hospital. … An eyewitness said one of the residents saw the suspects trying to load the stolen chicken on their bicycle and made an alarm, which brought residents out. … Police commander Alison Agaba said “had the Police not got there in time, the mob would have set the suspects on fire.”
25 Aug 2008, Orissa, India: In part of the ongoing Hindu-Christian violence, a 29-year-old Catholic nun was raped “by a member of a Hindu mob in Kandhamal district. … She also alleged that she was paraded naked through the streets.” Another article indicates that she was gang-raped by members of a mob of 40 men; so far 8 men have been arrested in the case. With her when she was taken was pastor Father Thomas Chellan, whom the mob beat with irons and tried to kill by dousing him with petrol. See The Hindu for more info from Chellan’s pov.
25 Aug. 2008, Soweto, South Africa: “The victim of two suspected robbers, who had reportedly been terrorising the community, feels the culprits deserved to die. She said this after the two robbers got a fatal dose of mob justice in Lenasia South at the weekend when residents accosted them. ‘The men have been stealing from the community for a long time now and they finally got what they deserved,’ said Amelia Miya, 53. … ‘When I got to the street there were many people assaulting the robber with sjamboks and kicking him.’ … ‘The other robber was caught a few streets away and beaten to death on the scene. It turns out that he was carrying a toy gun.'”
21 Aug 2008, Subang Jaya, Malaysia: Six men, all in their 20s, are believed to have killed Mohd Farid Sarader Ali, 24, who was alleged to have snatched the handbag of a VIP’s wife. He was beaten up about a week later by the VIP’s son and his friends, after they tracked him through his motorcycle registration; he fell into a coma and died three days later in hospital. Mohd Farid, an oddjobs worker, “had several previous records for snatch thefts.” His mother said, “‘Even if he did snatch the Datin’s handbag, he doesn’t deserve to die.'” Another man said that he and others “‘followed the VIP son’s car to the place but could not do anything as some 25 men bashed him up in front of the Datin.'”