Many die-hard Black Sabbath fans often maintain that the Dio era (with Ronnie James Dio as the lead vocalist) wasn’t ‘true Black Sabbath’. Meanwhile, Dio’s fan club quite often claims that the only Sabbath worth listening to are the two studio albums they did with Dio. Those metal-heads who enjoy Sabbath, with or without Dio, often edge towards Heaven and Hell as the better of the two albums.

The second album Mob Rules has quite a cult following among Dio’s aficionados. The 1981 single The mob rules was the highlight of the album, which even 34 years later is a metal masterpiece. Its lyrics seems prophetic, in many ways, especially for modern day South Asia.

Close the city and tell the people that something’s coming to call

Death and darkness are rushing forward to take a bite from the wall, oh

You’ve nothing to say

They’re breaking away

If you listen to fools...

The Mob Rules

Kill the spirit and you’ll be blinded, the end is always the same

Play with fire, you burn your fingers and lose your hold of the flame, oh

It’s over, it’s done

The end is begun

If you listen to fools...

The Mob Rules

You've nothing to say

Oh, They're breaking away

If you listen to fools...

Break the circle and stop the movement, the wheel is thrown to the ground

Just remember it might start rolling and take you right back around

You're all fools!

The Mob Rules!

Amidst Tony Iommi’s thundering guitar-work, Geezer Buttler’s pounding bass and Vince Appice’s trademark drumming, Dio’s resounding vocals seem to be talking of 2015 Jhelum or Dadri.

India has recently joined Pakistan as a breeding ground for religiously motivated mobs, with Bangladesh joining in through its own killing spree against secular and atheist bloggers. What’s common in all cases of mob violence across South Asia is religious supremacism.

After radical Hindus began lynching Muslims over allegations of eating beef, with the Dadri incident being the most high profile, there were clamours of Hinduism having nothing to do with such violence. Similar noise has been generated whenever Islamo-fascist mobs have too frequently targeted Christians, Hindus, or Ahmadis – as we witnessed in Jhelum a couple of weeks ago – in Pakistan over the past decade or so.

Those shielding the flaws in criminal procedure of the penal codes on either side of the Indo-Pak border claim that while laws exist that criminalise certain actions, no one is allowed to take the law in their own hands. While Section 295 B and C of Pakistan penal code outlaws blasphemy with death punishment sanctioned for the guilty, the corresponding law that’s ‘misused’ in India is the beef ban. There’s a 10-year jail punishment for cow slaughter in Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Rajasthan, with varying punishments in many other states.

The prohibition of cow slaughter is among the Indian Directive Principles of State Policy. It is mentioned in the Indian Constitution’s Article 48, which reads, “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.”

Meanwhile Section 295-C of Pakistan Penal Code reads: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

As is obvious, the law doesn’t explicitly ask anyone in India and Pakistan to kill others for eating beef, or ‘blasphemy’ respectively. This is a point often made in courts in both countries, by judges dealing with such cases. However, what solutions pertaining to targeting mob violence criminally lack is acknowledgement of the reality that codifying religious supremacism in the Constitution or penal codes inadvertently nourishes mob – or herd – rule, which encourages mob violence.

Wilfred Trotter, the author of Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War, wrote: “The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange protein and resists it with similar energy. It would not perhaps be too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen known to science. If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated.

This absolute certitude in beliefs and actions is crucial while the herd mulls and enacts brutal violence. Furthermore, when the law establishes the fact that these very beliefs of the majority herd – Hindus in India, Muslims in Pakistan – are superior to similarly held beliefs among minorities, gives the mob the push it needs to take their cause to its ‘natural’ conclusion.

Case in point: there’s no corresponding clause to PPC’s Section 295-C that punishes insult to other religious figures with death. Similarly, there’s no ban on pork in India to safeguard the sentiments of orthodox Muslims.

The defence counsel of the murderer of Salmaan Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, has regularly reiterated in all the hearings that “killing a blasphemer is religious duty.” This ‘religious duty’ argument is rubberstamped by the Pakistan Penal Code, with a similarly intolerant narrative created by the beef ban in India. Furthermore, the disparity in frequency of mob violence in India and Pakistan is in synchrony with the difference between the legally sanctioned punishments for cow slaughter and ‘blasphemy’ respectively.

As is obvious, one can’t create a blasphemy law that asks for death penalty for insulting all religious figures venerated by all communities in Pakistan, or a ban on all food consumption that communities in India might find offensive. The logical solution to mob violence, thence, is elimination of clauses that uphold the beliefs and sentiments of one religious group over the rights of other groups.

Dio was less optimistic when he sang about “playing with fire” in The mob rules, which was an uncanny depiction of the recent torching of Ahmadi factory and ‘place of worship’ in Jhelum. But there was a clear lesson in Sabbath’s warning, “Just remember (the wheel) might start rolling and take you right back around”.

The wheels of intolerance are rolling in South Asia. The only way they can be halted, and forestalled from taking the region back to the Stone Age, is if the legislators and the judiciary step in and make egalitarian amendments.