NEW DELHI—A collective of activists and lawyers are hoping that a one-of-its-kind 24x7 telephone helpline will help prevent lynching attacks as well as double up as a legal assistance service to victims of mob attacks. Announced by the group, called United Against Hate, at a press meet in Delhi on Monday evening, the helpline, 1800-313360000, began functioning on Tuesday afternoon.
Nadeem Khan, one of the core committee members of United Against Hate, said the group’s focus is on Hindi-speaking states, where most of the lynching attacks have taken place.
“It is not only a toll-free number but also a helpline centre. So we will take the call and also process the issues and concerns raised by the caller and provide legal services also,” Khan said.
It is not only a toll-free number but also a helpline centre. So we will take the call and also process the issues and concerns raised by the caller and provide legal services also: Nadeem Khan, United Against Hate
Since 2014, when the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the centre, lynching attacks have become a common headline. While there are no accurate numbers on how many people have been killed by lynch mobs since 2014, some websites put the number for lynchings since 2015 at 95. Many of these attacks have been carried out on Muslim men transporting cattle, on allegations of cow slaughter or cattle theft.
When asked why the group set this up when several police departments have their own toll-free helplines, Khan said that the police often do not play an active role in checking violence.
“Often the police station is only a few kilometres from the spot where lynchings occur and yet the police do not intervene despite the violence going on for hours,” he said.
He cited the example of a 2018 lynching at Godda in Jharkhand, where two Muslim men were accused of being cattle thieves and lynched by a mob. In that incident, he alleged, the police took two hours to reach the spot and the...