Why Two Hundred Ordinary Hindus Did Not See A Dead Muslim Child On A Railway Platform In North India

Aarthi Sethi: The affective alienation by which a gathered crowd of Hindus can lynch, break, stab, tear into pieces a Muslim boy, and then not see what is left, is because these Hindus do not think Muslims belong in the social body. Yet this analysis goes only so far because something much more terrifying seems to have occurred: not the breakdown of a social contract but the production of a new contract in today’s India, one from which all Muslims, even children, are now affectively felt to be outside. In this case it is not simply that those present did not intervene to save Junaid and his friends from harm. This is common in India. Most people do not stop to intervene or help in a violent situation because they are scared. We should cease lamenting the indifference of “the Indian public” and ask instead what forms of obligation to strangers can exist in a society as radically unequal as ours. In this case then it is not that those present were indifferent to the public lynching of a 15 year old Muslim boy. They were not indifferent at all. Rather they made a collective agentive decision to abide by a common sense to not see the public savaging of a Muslim boy. The blind wall behind which Junaid’s body lies reflects a positive action on the part of the Hindus present to collectively agree to refuse him the most basic recognitions humanity (that is the force by which humans recognize each other as sharing a common being and bond) demands. More here.