Countering Mob Violence

The incidence of mob violence in Bajaur, where a murder suspect was killed in police custody at the station by a charged mob, is reflective of the lack of trust in the authorities within society. We are no strangers to instances of mob violence, and it is clear that they occur when groups feel that their brand of justice is not being implemented by the state.
And this is exactly where the problem lies. In Bajaur, the victim of the mob killing at the police station was himself a murder suspect, apprehended by the police as a result of the murder victim’s family’s complaint. In hindsight, the way events transpired indicates that at least some within the family of the murder victim just used the police to apprehend the suspect—and then exacted their own revenge.
In many parts of Pakistan, parallel justice systems continue to have an impact on the concept of ‘justice’ itself. These can be formalised structures, such as the jirga or panchayat, or informal practices that centre on dispute resolution and family feuds. This, coupled with the absence of state mechanisms for service delivery in many far-flung regions had led to trust in the state being eroded. With the ‘an-eye-for-an-eye’ brand of justice being seen as right by many, this lack of trust in the state then entails that all it takes for someone to enact their own version of what is just is by enforcing it through numbers, or the mob.
What were once isolated incidents of mob violence have now become the norm. This is because each such incident emboldens others when they see the lack of repercussions and the problems associated with identifying all the perpetrators of a crime in a large group. To end instances of mob violence, the government has the not-so-simple task of catching perpetrators of these crimes. It must start somewhere; why not Bajaur? Previous incidents—from high-profile cases such as the Mashal Khan murder to lesser-known instances—always fail to punish all those involved. If we can start by changing this trend somewhere, crimes by mobs are less likely to be perpetrated.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More