I take the liberty to quote the famous phrase by Shakespeare, not to question the meaning of life but for a more serious issue that the nation faces in the 21st century- Vigilantism. When those who are meant to protect and deliver justice are in cahoots with the criminals or play the silent witness with power like Dhritarashtra in “Mahabharata”, the hero hidden under the skin of the perplexed RK Laxman’s “Common Man” rises to power. Ethically speaking, there is a fine line we tread, when it comes to teaching lessons. The question that stares us in the face is- “Whether being a vigilante is justified or not.”
There being two faces of a coin, we have a “Superman” and a “Batman” version of the story, only the heroes being replaced by women in eclectic pink sarees led by a former child bride “Sampat Pal” who joined hands through the “Gulaabi gang”, to raise their voice against the atrocities meted out to women. Well, their act of taking the law in their hands in retaliation is justified because the law enforcers are not doing their bit. The cases of domestic violence are not reported in the first place, courtesy our social conditioning and those who do approach the police are not registered, if they involve a powerful individual or due to rampant corruption. God forbid if the women decide to seek help at night, they are only increasing the probabilities of a custodial rape.
The act of vigilantism doesn’t always have positive consequences as there’s a darker side to the story as well. Exploring the heroic aspirations to deliver justice, the individuals sometimes cross the line and turn villainous. The “Express Tribune” reported a case of mob justice in Punjab, where a “deranged” man accused of sacrilege, was beat mercilessly and then burnt alive. As the adage goes, “Two wrongs cannot make a right”, the crime committed cannot be equated and justified with a murder. The ugly act of vengeance has twisted the rightful purpose of vigilantism and added a grey shade to the same where the dark forces of the soul rise to conquer the good in an individual.
The existence of the choice for- “To be or not to be”, by dispensing justice as a group needs to eliminated and replaced by a change to bring about effective law enforcement and governance. It’s time we realized that anything which builds its foundation on the graves of repressions and denied justice, can only create a positive change for a while, after which it goes back to where it started to complete the cycle.
Sources: The Express Tribune.