Our country is governed by the Rule of Law. According to which, no person can be punished without the authority of law. Any person who commits a crime can be punished through the procedure established by law. Despite all these safeguards available to the citizens of India, there has been a constant increase in the incidents of mob lynching. Lynching is a social act, it is not new, but it happens more readily when more people believe in some common cause. There were big differences between past or present acts is the role of social media of which WhatsApp is most notable. Lynching also known as vigilant violence against to have committed a crime. In India, such violence is mostly inflicted upon Muslim accused in the related matter or for any other reason (love-jihad) Dalits, inter-faith couples, mentally challenges women accused of stealing or murdering children in order to provide, Instant justice or to safeguard their traditional and social norms. In India, the cow has been given the status of a sacred and animal and is worshipped at various places and to kill which is considered a sin. Most of the states have enacted laws to prohibits the slaughter of cows.
Lynching originated in the19th century America, where white mobs lynched black Americans if they crossed any historical boundary and to sense of fear among them. In India, one of the first such incidence took place on 10th June 2012 where activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) and goshala Sangh damaged the factory and burnt the houses of its owner when 25 carces (similar to that of cows)were found near their factory and were suspected to have killed them. The next incidence that gathered a lot of attention took place in Dadri on 28th Sep 2015 when Mohd. Akhlaq and his son were dragged out of their home and were beaten to death by a mob of around 2000 people on suspicion that they stole and slaughtered a cow-calf.
Lynching is a pre-mediated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public execution by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, punish a convicted transgressor, or intimidate a group, instances of lynchings and similar mob violence can be found in every society.
PURPOSE OF LYNCHING
Lynching act of terror meant to spread fear among blacks served the broad social purpose of maintaining white supremacy in the economic, social and political sphere.
REASON BEHIND MOB-VIOLENCE
The reason behind the commission of an act of mob violence cannot be attributed to one factor as many factors can contribute to such violence. The most common reason is technology. In the last one year,28 people across 9 Indians states have been lynched in separate incidents, which have been triggered by rumours spread on social media. Of these, more than 20 people were victims of mob lynching in the last two months alone. Undoubtedly, the political outfits and organization behind aforesaid acts of violence harness the results of such crime by moulding them into a political and social propaganda to brainwash one particular community against another and subsequently capitalizing the gains out of in a manner of their choice namely, elections.
There is no special provisions or law to punish mob lynching or hate violence in India but there are some other provisions related to such violence. Under Criminal Procedure Code,1973 sect- 223(a) provides that mob involved in some offence in the same proximate section related to hate speech and hate crime under section- 153 A provides enmity between different groups on grounds of religious race, place of birth, residence, language, act prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
153 B of IPC provides, imputations, assertion prejudicial to national integration.
Section- 302 punishment for murder.
Section-304 of IPC Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder.
Section- 307 of IPC attempt to murder.
Section- 323 of IPC punishment for causing hurt .
Section- 325 of IPC punishment for causing grievous hurt, etc.
Section-34 of IPC common Intention
Section-141 of IPC Unlawful Assembly
Section -149 of IPC Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object.
Section- 147 and 148 of IPC- rioting and its punishment.
Section- 120-B of IPC Criminal Conspiracy .
Section- 505 statement conducting to public mischief.
The Supreme Court in the case of Tahseen S. Poona walla v/s U.O.I and others, issued remedial and guidelines for dealing with the case of mob lynching as recommended the parliament to enact a law to deal with issues. The guidelines direct, for dealing with issues. The remedial and guidelines for dealing with the case of mob lynching as recommended the parliament to enact a law to deal with issues. The guidelines direct the state government to delegate a senior police officer in each district for taking mob lynching measures to prevents incidents of mob violence and lynching to immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages were instances of lynching and mob lynching have been reported in the recent past, prepare a lynching and mob violence victim compensation scheme, for the nodal officer, shall bring to the notice of the DGP any, inter-district, co-ordination issues, every, police- officer to cause a mob to disperse, which is his opinion the victims of these attacks a usually the Muslims and Dalits involved either in transportation or allegedly slaughtering cattle and are economically backwards. The attacks have a drastic impact on the victims and their family. They are usually tortured by vigilante groups, economically deprived and unaware of their rights. As mob lynching is not a separate offence in India, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) doesn’t in its annual report collect data related to such violence. In order to understand current conditions and coverage of the offence, such data is relied upon. It is also important to understand the motive and context of these incidents through bias indicators which specifies the reason behind the act and provides a better understanding of the situation.
National Human Rights Commission v/s State of Gujarat and others (2009) 6 SCC 342 –communal harmony is the hallmark of a democracy, no religion teaches hatred.
Justice Deepak Mishra, in S.Krishna Sradha v/s State of A.P (2017) 4SCC 516, para 27 observed that- a right is conferred on a person by the rule of law and if he seeks a remedy through the process meant for establishing the rule of law and it is denied to him, it would never subserve the cause of real justice.
Justice Dr-A.K Sikri, in cardamom Mktg. Corpn. v/s state of Kerela, (2017)5 SCC 255 , para 13 observed that – when we talk of sound and stable system of administration of justice. The society should be made free from crimes so that every citizen of our country can lead a peaceful life and enjoy their rights.
Our P.M Hon’ble Mr- Narendra Modi on June 29, 2017 slams so-called Gau Rakshak. He said killing in the name of gau Bhakti is wrong, no person is allowed to take the law in their own hand.
On 24th June 2019, there was an open debate on Indian News TV Channel regarding the Jharkhand lynching case. In Jharkhand lynching case, the victim was targeted by the culprits on the suspicion of a theft at Dhatkidih Village on the night of 18th June. Despite him pleading that he was innocent and should be spared, they beat him up badly. Most of the panellists stated that recently, there have been more than 250 cases of mob lynching in India, out of which 38% related to suspected slaughtering of cows. It was also told in the debate that about 50 % of victims were Muslims. However, no data is available with the Commission, therefore, the Commission is not in a position to comment on such data. The Hindu Dainik Jagran also in its editorial dated 26th June 2019, has condemned the incidents of mob-lynching and has mentioned that now the police, Doctors and other NGOs person are also victims of mob lynching. This editorial has further stated some recent incidents of Mathura. Recently, Union Cabinet Minister for Minorities, Shri MukhtarAbbas Naqvi, has also condemned the incidents of mob lynching and news in Dainik Jagran dated 26-6-2019 further mention that a Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Jharkhand High Court stating that since 2016 till date, about 18 persons have been killed but the state government is not taking any effective steps. It has further mentioned that such incidents are not properly investigated. It has further stated that the state government has not followed the guidelines issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
As per the data available on India spend website, in Uttar Pradesh, since 2012 to 2019 , about 50 incidents, have taken place in which there are about 50 victims. Out of these victims, 11 persons were killed while 25 were major assaults.
In the backdrop of the aforesaid situation, the commission has taken up this study Suo Moto and accordingly recommending to the State Government to make a comprehensive law to combat mob lynching. The commission is providing draft bill which is annexed to this report.
PALGHAR MOB LYNCHING
Palghar mob Lynching– On 16th April 2020, a vigilante group lynched two Hindu Sadhus and their driver in Gadchinchale Village, Palghar District, Maharashtra, India. The incident was fuelled by WhatsApp rumours of thieves operating in the area during the countrywide Coronavirus lockdown. The vigilant group of villagers had mistaken the three passengers as thieves and killed them. Policemen who intervened were also attacked; four policemen and a senior police officer were injured.
Two Juna Akhara Sadhus chikne Maharaj kalpavruksjagiri (70 yr) ago along with their 30 yrs old driver, Nilesh telgade were travelling to attend the funeral of their guru Shri Mahant ramgiri in surat. Around 10 pm, as they were passing through Gadchinchale,140 km north of Mumbai, a forest department sentry stopped their car at a local checkpoint. While they were talking to the sentry the vigilant group accosted the attacked them with sticks and axes. The Indian Express reported that the victims were mistaken for being child thieves and organs harvesters. According to reports publishes on 17th April, the police had tried to control the mob, but they were beaten when they tried to intervene. Four policemen and a senior police officer received injuries in the incident. The mob begins attacking kalpavrukshagiri who is seen begging for his life, while policemen try to control the situation. The attackers then take him away and kill him. In another video, the mob is seen breaking the windows of a police patrol vehicle. The vehicle is seen rolled over with shattered glass in yet another video.
According to the Maharashtra Home Ministers Anil Deshmukh,101 persons were arrested by the police within 8 hours of the offence .on 22 April, Home Ministers Deshmukh posted a complete list of people arrested, and said that none of the people arrested were Muslims and the BJP opposition in Maharashtra was trying to make the lynching a religious Hindu- Muslim issue. On the evening of 19th April, CM of the state of Uddhav Thackeray issued the statement that culprits involved in this lynching will be brought to justice. He said that strict action should be taken against the accused, and transferred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department of Maharashtra State and Additional Director General Atulchandra Kulkarni.
This incidence attracted nationwide outrage on 19th April, after the videos went viral on social media, and the Maharashtra Government received criticism. National Human Rights Commission of India sent a request to the Maharashtra police chief asking for a report with details of action taken against the accused and any relief provided to relatives of the victims, to be sent within 4 weeks.
At the individual level steps can be taken by the administration to ensure speedy justice, registering FIR without delay, quashing of the cross- cases which add to further victimizations upon the already week and poor, quashing of the bail application by the accused as they pose a serious threat to the victims and their family for the loss suffered by them and they should be provided free legal aid for them to secure justice. The government should take steps to pass the demanded by the civil society, Manav Suraksha Kanon (MaSuKA) which provides that the law to be made for mob lynching shall be cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable and invite life imprisonment along with a time-bound trial, compensation to the families of victims and the police action to ensure the protection of witnesses, like SC, ST acts 1989 and the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act,2005 are meant for securing justice and protecting a group.
The Supreme Court condemned mob lynching incidents across the country and urged parliament to enact a law to deal with crime that threatens rule of law and country’s social fabric, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps, the top court gave to deal with the crime:
1-The state Government shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob lynching.
2-The state government shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob- violence have been reported in the recent past.
3-The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence-related issues.
4-It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism.
5-Central and the state government should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequences.
6-Curb and stop the dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.
7-Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
8-State government shall prepare a lynching or mob violence victim compensation scheme.
9-Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by the designated court/fast track court embarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.
10-To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentences upon conviction of the accused person.
11-If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfil his duty, it will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence.
Mob violence may happen because of various reasons like, hunting because of which more than 2000 mentally challenged were lynched for rumours that alleged them of stealing and murdering children, communal conflagrations as in the 1984 Anti- Sikh riots or anti –Muslim riots of Gujarat in 2002 or interfaith relations like the lynching of Ghulam Mohammad on July 17 by Hindu Yuva Vahini because of is relations with a Hindu girl in the neighbourhood, an individual or a group cannot take the enforcement of laws into their own hands and gradually become a law unto themselves and punish the violator on their own assumption and in the manner in which they deem fit in their shallow understanding of justice. Mob lynching is fast gaining ground which is quite dangerous for democracy like India. There may be different variants of mob lynching ranging from cow vigilantism to child kidnapping or others, the end result may sound a death- knell for the rule of law in any democratic country. Primarily, it shows that people are losing faith in institutions like the police, judiciary and the legislature. We will have to concentrate on better digital literacy of the citizens who are using these platforms. They are to made aware of the difference between truth and fake news. Government can make use of the radio and television for this purpose. In doing this they help of NGOs and civil society can be taken. In order to reach the masses in the rural area, the help of local panchayats and villages level functionaries can be easily procured by the district administration. Lastly, enough political will be needed to tackle this problem by political bosses which is assuming menacing trends. Time has come to act decisively otherwise it will be too late.
1-EDITORIAL, TIMES OF INDIA date15.6.2018
2-Jai Singh, Indira passing the book of mob lynching must end economic times, July 22-28 2018
3-The Indian Express, date 6.7.2018
4-Varma Satvik, Checking the new abnormal the Hindu date 4.8.2018