"Die, killer, die"
While the individual desire for revenge is understandable, can we justify a public lynching?
In the busy traffic of Lahore on June 2, 2011, a traffic warden stopped a car carrying a patient, for reasons unknown. The family was frustrated by more than the hot weather, smoke and the sound of horns. They wanted to rush to the hospital.
The patient was in need of critical medical attention. However, the warden was in no hurry. According to TV reports, he couldn’t come up with a credible reason for stopping the car, yet he demanded cash in exchange for letting the family go.
Despite being bribed, the incident carried on so long that the patient in the back seat passed away.
What followed was equally saddening. Relatives and some passersby decided to teach the warden a lesson. They beat him up!
Video footage showed the frustrated lot beating him mercilessly. The death of a family member is an irrecoverable loss and in this particular case, it was unforgivable. The family witnessed their loved one dying in front of them due to unwarranted delays by a corrupt warden. The immediate feeling was of revenge. And they took it.
Incidents of people taking the law in their own hands and attaining justice by themselves are so frequent now that they are becoming a cliché. A cliché no one wants to talk about.
Past incidents of people beating and burning robbers to death and this recent beating of a traffic warden, show the state of mind we all are in.
We have lost trust in the system of justice installed in the country, and more recently, in the ability of our security forces to protect us.
Our frustration and anxiety has crossed the level of sanity. We take part in such acts with guns, sticks and stones. And those who have none join in using their shoes.
In our state of madness, we have forgotten that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.
An official’s corruption leading to a death cannot and should not be avenged by beating him up, possibly to death. In democratic societies everyone has the right to trial and the court decides a criminal’s fate. However, with a lack of such a system in place, there is real terror in Pakistan.
The family’s desire to kill the warden is perhaps understandable but what should we make of the average Joes walking on the street who decided to join in without question, without hesitation?