This is a guest post by MEGHA ANWER
The recent spate of vigilante attacks in India has lent a new, nearly domestic familiarity to the word “lynching”. This, though, is more than just a shift in language: the nation’s visual archive itself seems be shifting, towards instatement of a new normal. Inside just a year the “lynching photograph” has moved center-stage, filling mainstream news reportage and social media newsfeeds. The imagistic vocabulary of lynching has thus taken on a touch of mundane inevitability in caste and communal violence.
It began in March 2015, with the lynching of Syed Arif Khan in Dimapur, Nagaland. A couple of months later two teenage Dalit girls were raped, strangled and left hanging from a mango tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh. Then, on 28 September 2015, Mohammad Akhlaq was bludgeoned to death by a mob in his home near Dadri in what went on to gain spurious notoriety as a “beef-eating incident”. The following March, continuing with the logical rhythm of a scheduled sequel, the cattle herder Mazlum Ansari and his 14-year-old nephew Imteyaz Khan were lynched and hanged from a tree in Jharkhand. Most recently (on May 22) M. T. Oliva, a Congolese citizen, was beaten to death in the national capital of Delhi. This is an incomplete list: it includes only those incidents that resulted in fatalities. In the same timeframe there have been at least a dozen other cases in which the victims somehow survived the end-stage public shaming, torment and lurid physical violence, in short the ordeal of a completed lynching.
There is no lynching without its spectators. Continue reading Three Photographs, Six Bodies: The Politics of Lynching in Twos: Megha Anwer