Issue of mob lynching in India

APR 27

Mains   > Security   >   Development and Extremism   >   Mob lynching

WHY IN NEWS:

  • The spate of incidents of lynching over the past few years has led to a heightened sense of insecurity among the marginalised communities

WHAT IS MOB LYNCHING?

  • Mob lynching is a term used to describe the acts of targeted violence by a large group of people.
  • The mob believes that they are punishing the victim for doing something wrong (not necessarily illegal) and they take the law in their own hands to punish the purported accused without following any rules of law.
  • The mob tries to deliver an instant justice based on their own perception of the accused and the crime committed, rather than valid evidence
  • Supreme Court aptly referred it as ‘horrendous act of mobocracy’
  • More often than not, innocent people are targeted on the basis of some rumor, misinformation or suspicion.

STATISTICS:

  • According to Home Ministry data, 45 persons were killed in 40 cases of mob lynching across 9 states between 2014 and 2018.
  • As per Hate Crime Watch >> Muslims, who constitute 14% of India's population, were victims in 60% of hate crimes; Christians, 2% of the population, in 14 % cases

CAUSES OF MOB LYNCHING

  • Lack of legal framework:
    • There is “no separate” definition for such incidents under the existing IPC.
    • Lynching incidents can be dealt with under Section 300 and 302 of IPC.
    • Even though Supreme Court in, Tehseen Poonawala case,  recommended to frame a special union law against lynching >> Parliament do not passed any such laws
  • Political causes
    • The political class has either remained a silent spectator or an active supporter of the cow vigilantes, who serve as political instruments to influence or protect their support base.
    • Further, communal cleavages are exploited to further the narrow interests of the political class.
    • For example: Lynching incidents in Dadri (2015), Alwar (2017) etc.
    • According to Human Rights Watch >> radical cow protection groups in India have killed at least 44 people over the last 3 years
  • Institutional weakness
    • NCRB doesn’t maintain specific data with respect to "lynching".
    • The Indian Penal Code has no clear provisions for or definition of mob lynching.
  • Poor enforcement of rule of law by the agencies:
    • Weak prosecution, long drawn process of justice and biased agencies propel people to use unlawful means to seek justice.
    • A sense of confidence in the minds of people carrying out such vigilante activities, with such impunity, to remain unscathed from the reach of the law.
  • Social causes:
    • Perceived injustice or unequal and unfair treatment by state or another group may lead to violent means to seek equality.
    • The ethnicity and religious identity of the accused is used to whip up anger among the mob.
    • The victims of lynching and hate crime often belong to marginalised groups like Muslim, Adivasi, Dalit, Christian and others.
    • Failure on the part of agencies of socialisation like family, school, neighbourhood and media to inculcate values of rationality, empathy, compassion, justice and democracy.
  • Economic causes
    • Illiteracy, lack of job opportunities and absence of medium of creative outlets fuels the frustration of the youth and turns them towards anti-social activities such as mob lynching.
  • Fake news:
    • Social media and messaging platforms have become source of spreading fake news, hatred towards minority, inciting fear towards someone or mobilizing a community to do such crimes.
    • Anonymity provided by these platforms allows miscreants to issue open threats to the dissidents and evade tracking by law enforcement agencies.

STEPS TAKEN:

  • SC guidelines laid down in Tehseen Poonawala’s case in 2017:
    • Fast track courts in each district:
      • Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district.
    • Preventive measures:
      • Every police officer shall ensure to disperse the mob that has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise.
    • Awareness:
      • Central and the state governments shall broadcast on radio, television and other media platforms about the serious consequences of mob lynching and mob violence.
    • Compensation to victims:
      • The State Governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme in the light of the provisions of Section 357A of CrPC
    • Penalize public servants for negligence:
      • If a police officer or an officer of the district administration fails to fulfill his duty, it will be considered an act of deliberate negligence.
    • Model punishment
      • To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person
    • Designate a nodal police officer in each district:
      • The state governments will have to designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • A special law:
      • SC recommended for a special union law against mob lynching
    • Focused approach:
      • The state governments need to identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
  • Government initiatives:
    • Nodal officer in each district:
      • The Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • Special task force:
      • It has also asked to set up a special task force to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes.
    • Regulating social media:
      • The government asked messaging platforms like WhatsApp to find technological solutions to check on the fake messages, rumours, hoaxes etc.
      • The WhatsApp users can now forward messages to only five chats at one time.
    • Setting up of a committee to suggest a legal framework:
      • Two high-level committees have been constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching.
  • Private member bill:
    • Introduced by a Member of Parliament that includes definition of "lynching", provisions of strict punishment, protection of the witness and families of victims etc.
  • Civil society :
    • The NCAML, a civil society, has released a draft law named "Manav Suraksha Kanoon" (MaSuka) to curb the menace of mob lynching.
  • Actions taken by state government:
    • Manipur and Rajasthan government passed a bill against lynching in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

BEST PRACTICE:

  • Manipur's Anti-Lynching law:
    • It is in sync with the Supreme Court guidelines in Tehseen Poonawala case
    • The law requires the state to formulate a scheme for relief camps and rehabilitation in case of displacement of victims
    • Under this law no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials who fail in their duties to prevent hate crimes such as lynching.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Compensation amount must be recovered from perpetrators:
    • Under the compensation scheme for the victims, the amount to be paid to the victims should be recovered from the perpetrators of the crime or collective fines be imposed on the villagers where the lynching takes place.
  • Punitive laws:
    • While framing the laws, the Centre could even provide for punitive action against political leaders found guilty of inciting mobs.
    • Punitive action to be taken against police officers accused of dereliction of duty, as incorporated in the law enacted by Manipur government, could be replicated in the Central law too as it would deter police officials acting in a partisan manner in favour of the lynch mob.
    • The law should also incorporate penal action against doctors who stand accused of dereliction of duty, for the delay in attending to victims of lynching.
  • Sensitization programmes:
    • Awareness generation towards cultural diversities and communal harmony must be taken under the institutions such as National Foundation for Communal Harmony under Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Harnessing demographic dividend:
    • Socio-economic programme for skilling and employment generation must be strengthened >> to channelize the energy of youth towards productive areas

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. Examine the role played by political and social institutions in the country in sanctioning mob violence. Also suggest measures required to tackle such menace?