South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Crowds, Mob and the Law: The Delhi Gang Rape

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

Focusing on the Delhi gang-rape of December 16, 2012, the paper describes the force of two aggregations by which the violence is carried out and represented – the raping mob and the mourning and protesting crowd. Even though all six members of the mob are arrested within three days of the rape, we find disparate and spontaneous crowd formations across the city, expressing their anger at police apathy and state indifference in securing public spaces. This paper teases out the relationship between the mob and the crowd. As far as the mob is concerned I show how the trial court presupposes a bond that ties the members together. This bond is found in the elaboration of ‘conspiracy’ and ‘dacoity’. This connection is further amplified through detailed forensic evidence, which channels the animacy of the rape into a medical-legal language of fact. In reacting to the rape crowd formations point us to the intensity of an egalitarian release. I follow Canetti’s development of ‘discharge’, without which the crowd does not exist. Through discharge, all those who belong to the crowd get rid of their differences and feel equal. While such equality is illusory, the important characteristic of discharge is that its continuance is vitally linked to the growth of the crowd. I show how crowd formations intersect with public discourses drawn from visual reportage as well as the medical condition of the victim. Such discourses incite and document crowd movements and function like order words carrying a sting.

Deepak Mehta

Shiv Nadar University, India

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4 - Crowds, Mob and the Law: The Delhi Gang Rape



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