The Bulandshahr incident of December 2018 bears all the hallmarks of mobilised violence: an undisguised political purpose, backing from well-organised groups, and a disregard for the lives of civilians and police personnel alike. In addition to the loss of life and property, such violence undermines the state of liberty in the country. For the violence is often directed against a diversity of opinions, be it on grounds of religion, language, eating habits, caste, or any of the other aspects of our lives that set us apart from each other and that form the basis for our richly plural society. The principle of liberty requires us to respect these differences and to let individuals determine for themselves the way they want to live. Mobilised violence strikes against this principle. It prevents individuals from expressing themselves in the present through brute force and creates a chilling effect that prevents more expression in the future for fear of reprisal. This erosion of liberty leaves our society poorer.
Any intervention to alter this status quo will not be an easy one. The change that is most needed is an enlightened citizenry, one that respects the liberty of others. After all, every individual acting as part of a mob has a choice to not engage in violence. We must move towards a society where more individuals make the right decision when faced with this choice.