Published: 15th June 2018
#Assamlynchning: Former JNU student and Assamese musician Rahul Rajkhowa releases song about mob lynchings
The musician says he had written the song weeks ago but chose to release it at this time to bring down the communal tension in the state after the mob lynchings
About five days ago, two young Assamese men were lynched to death by a mob that mistook them for child abductors after a false Whatsapp message went viral. The men were both in their late twenties, one was a sound engineer, the other a digital artist, they were begging and pleading to be let go, claiming repeatedly that they knew nothing about the abduction, but no one paid heed. The mob wanted blood and they got it.
The lynching immediately set off a string of communal violence as the lynchers happened to be members of the Karbi community. Even people on social media started using the hashtag #BoycottKarbiAnglong and #AvoidKarbianglong. In the midst of all this hatred, musician and former JNU student, Rahul Rajkhowa is trying to bring about peace in his own way - through a song. Rahul had composed the song a while ago and it was written on the subject of repeated mob lynchings in the country but with the occurrence of the recent events, he thought it was best to release the song now.
Listen to the song here -
"Since there is so much communal hatred in the state right now, it felt like the right time to release the song. In the video of the lynching that went viral, you can see the men begging for the mob to stop, shouting over and over again that they are Assamese. Now people are enraged by the video and are spreading hate by saying that the Karbi people should be attacked, innocent people are now being attacked for no fault of their own," Rahul said. The singer said that the village itself is a very backward one, a place where a lot of violence takes place and the people there have a lot of other issues to deal with, "Unleashing violence on an entire community of people because some of them did something wrong is very unfair, that's why I thought I had to say something."
At first, Rahul did put up a post about his take on all the hate mongering but then decided that a song would carry the message further,"With posts, most people just want to get into heated debates and it leads to more anger. A song, on the other hand, brings together more people and it slows them down, brings down their frustration. That's what the greats like John Lenin and Bob Dylan did, they brought it a new perspective," the young singer explained.
Rahul mentioned that one of the deceased was also known to him but that's not the only reason this incident is personal to him. In 2012, Rahul almost became a victim of a violent mob himself, "I was walking with my sister when a group of people suddenly started harassing her for the clothes that she was wearing. Soon a mob formed and there were some people with cameras too. There were at least 45 people at the scene, thankfully we were able to make our way to a car somehow and were able to escape to safety."
Rahul's Facebook post -
Speaking about the dangers of WhatsApp rumours, Rahul said that he himself has noticed how people are always misusing information and make no attempt to verify the information, "When I was in college I remember reading the newspaper and seeing a story about some women who had been arrested for peddling drugs, their faces were all covered with their dupattas. Almost six months later, the same picture was going viral on WhatsApp, except this time the information was that the women were JNU students doing "embarrassing things" in their rooms."
In the Assam incident, the rumour was started by a person who had gotten into an argument with the two deceased men earlier. Whether or not he intended for them to die is still in question, but they did. Rahul questions the lack of existence of a mechanism to stop such rumours from spreading,"They have so much law enforcement for politicians and so many ways to further propaganda and publicity on social media. Isn't it possible to find a way to filter out these false messages?"
In his song, Rahul talks about how we are humans before anything else, before we are even Indians. Seems like we need to be reminded of this every now and then, to keep ourselves sane.