There are two blatant misconceptions about mobs:
- People who participate in mobs are actually good people who become emotionally charged, and that is why they commit acts of violence.
- People who participate in a mob are driven by some noble motive.
- Mobs are always spontaneous.
None of the above true, although exceptions prove the rule.
The truth is that when mobs attack, they harm innocent people. Some of the targets of mobs in India have been doctors/hospitals, public infrastructure and transport, and places of worship. Often innocent people are assaulted.
Mob myths make the problem worse.
The recent murder of two innocent young men is a shocking example of a crazy mob. On vacation just a few days ago, these youngsters were passing through a tribal village called Karbi (Assam) where they were forced out of their vehicle and beaten to death on suspicion of being child lifters. About 500 people had collected. No one bothered to verify who the boys actually were.
Here is the hard truth about mobs:
In many cases, it is the Convergence Theory at work. When there is an opportunity for violence, those who want to be violent tend to gather together. These can be people on the fringes of society, or those with deep grievances against authority. They can be frustrated, unemployed youth. People like these are drawn to a mob like a bee to honey. There are usually a few hardened criminals in any mob, and they stoke the fire. They incite, they call, they encourage.
And that ridiculous theory about individuals in mobs having a good cause? It’s nonsense. The truth is that the individuals in the mob know that their violent actions will not solve the problem. They know it, but they still do it. Why? Because they have a violent streak, and they don’t want to lose their golden opportunity. Being in a mob gives them a feeling of invincibility. They feel less responsible when a crime is committed collectively. These people are not just violent at heart, they are cowards who do not want to face punishment for their crime.
This means that mob violence can be prevented. You will not find mobs going on a rampage in every country in the world. There is a reason for that.
First and foremost, the law in any country should see mobs as inherently criminal, and punish the evildoers severely. There should no excuse for any mob to kill, assault, loot, or ransack. The “cause” is not important. Unfortunately, in India, the authorities often justify the actions of mob culprits and insist that good, ordinary people are in the mob.
Actually, people who participate in mobs have crossed over to the criminal side. They should be arrested, shamed and jailed, with ten years minimum punishment. Their names should be published in the media, even if no one is killed.
We should never forget that good people do not kill innocents, whether individually or collectively.