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This article has been written by Saloni Sharma and Aditya Singh Rana.

Introduction

‘In the first six months of 2017, 18 cow-terror attacks were reported which is 75% of the 2016 figure’ according to a report by IndiaSpend.

The Cambridge dictionary defines the term ‘vigilance’ as ‘law enforcement is undertaken without legal authority by a self-appointed group of people’.

An angry crowd (especially one that could easily become violent) of people lynch someone who they believe is guilty of a crime; they kill them without a legal trial or a group of people who condemn and punish a person without a fair trial. Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often use to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor or to intimidate a group. It is a new type of crime which thrived in Indian society. In India we can witness multiple reasons for lynching, and religious violence is one of them. In recent years, India has witnessed an escalation in mob lynching targeting minority communities, primarily Muslims and Dalits. While acknowledging the unique circumstances of various cases of mob lynching.

In India, although some lynching intention may not have been to hurt religious sentiments, targeted Muslims and other minorities revealing the commonly premeditated nature of these crimes. While the lynching seems to have been on spontaneous, detailed examination reveals that many were pre-planned crimes intended to harm not only individuals but also assert dominance over an entire community or send out a message.

As we see that Mob Lynching cases in India have rapidly increased from 2014 where the BJP government under PM Modi, who has taken control. The religious riots between different communities then started to take place in every local areas, cities and states across the country. One community members attack directly to the man of other communities without any fear of law enforcing agencies. And there we have seen that some political leaders of the particular region are silent on those brutal killings of people by the mob. India is changing its shape against the values of the Constitution of India. The Indian constitution and the preamble of the constitution ensure that “A Secular state means that the one that protects all religions equally and does not uphold any religion as the state religion”. But after 2014 the ruling BJP government and its ideological mentor RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) give more emphasis on the ideology of Hindu nation i.e. Hindutva by suppressing other religious mostly Islam and Christianity. This article informs society that how religion has divided humanity. Those religions who teach humans to hate other humans are no more a just religion.

Mob Lynching in India is increasing with new number of cases day by day. According to a Reuters report, a total of 63 cow vigilante attacks had occurred in India between 2010 and mid-2017, mostly since the Modi government came to power in 2014. In these attacks between 2010 and June 2017, “28 Indians – 24 of the Muslims – were killed and 124 injured”, states the Reuter’s report.

Lynching

There is no present codified law against lynching in India as such, however, Sub Section (a) of Section 223 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 contains the provision for persons being charged for an offense jointly when they are accused of the same offence committed in the course of the same transaction which is applicable on two or more people.

Lynching related attacks mostly include attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault, gang-rape etc. The victims are often brutally beaten, chained, stripped and hanged causing grievous injuries or death.

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A three-judge Bench led by Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra condemned recent incidents of lynching and mob attacks against Dalit and minority community citizens of the country on 17th July 2018 and asked the Parliament to pass a law considering lynching as an offence separately and determine punishment regarding the same.

The bench commented that no individual in his capacity or as a part of a group (which within no time assumes the character of a mob) can take the law into his/their hands and deal with a person treating him as guilty. CJI is also going to issue certain directions to take preventive, remedial and punitive measures. These steps are being taken in reference to a Writ Petition (Civil) No. 754 of 2016 which was filed under Section 32 of the Constitution of India by a social activist demanding immediate and necessary action against the cow protection groups indulging in violence and removal of violent contents from the social media uploaded by the said groups. The judgement can be referred to by clicking on this link.

The Supreme court also stated that there should not be any doubt that the authorities which are conferred with the responsibility to maintain law and order in the States should make sure that vigilantism, ‘be it cow vigilantism or any other vigilantism of any perception, does not take place’. Mob vigilantism and mob violence should be prevented by the governments by taking strict action and people who ought to report such incidents instead of taking the law into their own hands.

Punishment for lynching

The legal provisions present in our country currently have no laws to deal with lynching or mob attacks, however, the punishment for mob lynching is provided under the ambit of the following laws currently-

  • Section 302 of Indian Penal Code

This section of IPC deals with punishments related to murder i.e. the person who commits murder is punished either with a punishment of death or imprisonment for life. In many cases, the convict may even be liable to penalised.

  • Section 304 of Indian Penal Code 

This section deals with punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder which may be

  • Life imprisonment for life
  • imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine in case the act is done with an intention to kill or cause injury that is likely to cause death.
  • imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years, or with fine, or with both, if the act is done with the knowledge that it is likely to cause death or the injury that is likely to cause death, but without any intention.
  • Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code

 This section deals with the punishment in case of attempt to murder. A person who    does an act with an intention or knowledge that his action may cause death would   be guilty of murder and is to be punished with imprisonment of either for a term of   up to ten years and also be liable to fine.

  • Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code

This section defines the punishment for causing hurt voluntarily. Whoever, except if provoked as per section 334, voluntarily causes hurt, is bound to be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine (up to one thousand rupees), or with both.

  • Section 325 of the Indian Penal Code

This section deals with punishment for causing grievous hurt voluntarily. Under the provision of this section, if a person, except in case of provocation (as provided for by section 335), voluntarily causes grievous hurt, is likely to be punished with imprisonment of either for a term of up to seven years and also payment of fine.

  • Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code

This section highlights the punishment for Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention. When a criminal act is done by several persons in regard to a  common intention, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.

  • Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code

This section mentions the punishment for parties participating in a criminal conspiracy. In case the

  • Conspiracy is done for an offence which is punishable with death or life imprisonment or with imprisonment for 2 years or more, the offender is to be punished in the same manner as in case of abetment of the offense.
  • In case of conspiracy for an offense that is not punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for 2 years or above, the offender is liable to be punished with imprisonment for up to six months, or with fine or both.
  • Section 143 of the Indian Penal Code

Section 141 defines ‘unlawful assembly’ as an assembly of 5 or more people in order to use/show criminal force or to resist the execution of law or criminal trespass etc. which is punishable under Section 143 of the code with imprisonment for up to 6 months, or with fine, or both.

  • Section 147 of the Indian Penal Code

Section 146 of the code defines ‘rioting’ as an offense where an unlawful assembly or a member uses force or violence in the prosecution of a common object of the assembly. Section 147 of the code identifies every member of such an assembly guilty of the offense of rioting and is awarded imprisonment for up to 2 years, or with fine, or both. In case of rioting involving deadly weapons the punishment prescribed is for imprisonment for up to 3 years, or with fine, or both.   

  • Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code-

This section identifies every member of an unlawful assembly to be guilty of an offence commit­ted in the prosecution of a common object if the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object.

Manav Suraksha kanoon

National Campaign Against Mob Lynching drafted a bill known as the Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA) to begin a legal conversation against lynch mobs. Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of BR Ambedkar, and activist Tehseen Poonawalla drafted a law in order to accommodate a new law regarding mob violence by amending article 21 of the constitution of India. It also mandates that the concerned SHO (Station House Officer) of the area would be suspended until a time-bound judicial probe absolves him of charges. This will also work to provide relief to the affected people and rehabilitate them and their families. To know more about MASUKA refer to this blog.

Important cases

  1. In the case of Nandini Sundar and others v. State of Chhattisgarh which claimed widespread violations of the human rights of people in Dantewada District and its neighbouring areas in the State of Chhattisgarh with respect to the ongoing armed Maoist insurgency. The state government authorities in Chhattisgarh hired local tribal youth as SPOs and armed them to fight the Maoists, claiming that the practice was a right under the constitution of India to arm local tribal youth with guns to fight the battle against ‘extremist Maoists. The Supreme court observed that it is the duty of the State to strive, incessantly and consistently, to promote fraternity amongst all citizens such that dignity of every citizen is protected, nourished and promoted i.e. it is the duty of the state to prevent crime and maintain harmony in the country.
  2. In the case of Mohd. Haroon and others v. Union of India and another a writ petition was filed in relation to the riots erupted in and around District Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh as a result of communal tension in the city, which forced people to abandon their homes out of anxiety and fear. The petitioners claimed that the local administration instead of enforcing the law allowed the congregation to take place negligently and failed to monitor its proceedings. It was held that the victims of mob violence cannot be discriminated against on the basis of community or religion. The relief of rehabilitation and compensation should be given to all communities. The supreme court also observed that it is the duty of the State Administration in association with the intelligence agencies of both the State and the Centre to prevent recurrence of communal violence in any part of the State. If any officer responsible for maintaining law and order is found negligent, he/she should be brought within the ambit of law.
  3. In the case of Archbishop Raphael Cheenath S.V.D. v. State of Orissa and another a Writ Petition was filed highlighting the failure on the part of the State of Orissa in deploying adequate police force to maintain law and order in Kandhamal District of Orissa and in protecting its people during the assassination of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and others by Maoists. The court noted that the State Government should inquire into and find the causes for such communal unrest and strengthen the police infrastructure in the district to curb recurrence of such communal violence. The court also emphasised on simultaneous peace-building measures.

Painful and scary instances of mob lyncing

  • 2015, Dimapur Lynching case. It took place in Dimapur, Nagaland  India on 5 March 2015. A mob of about seven to eight thousands people broke into a prision, dragged a man detained under suspicion of rape out of the Demapur Central Jail, paraded him naked and beat him to death in a case of vigilante justice.
  • 2015, Dadri Mob lynching case. The 2015 Dadri moblynching refers to case of mob lynching in which a mob of villagers attacked the home of 52 year old Mohammed Akhlaq, killing him, for suspicion of slaughtering a cow. The attack took place at night, on 28 September 2015 in Bisara village, near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, India.
  • A 32 year old engineer in Karnataka is killed by two thousand strong mob with allegation of child kidnapping and organ harvesters and the rumors spread by facebook- owned messaging platform WhatsApp.
  • October 9, 2015, Two men, Rafeeq and Habib of Manipuri, UP were beaten up after people allegedly caught them slaughtering a cow and removing its skin.
  • January 13, 2016, Gauraksha Samiti assaulted a Muslim couple, Mohammed Hussain and wife Naseema Bano at railway station in MP’s Harda district to having their luggage searched on the suspicion that they were carrying beef.
  • March 18, 2016, Majloom Ansari and Imtiyaaz Khan were taking their cattle to a local fair when a mob assaulted them near Jhabar village in Jharkhand. They were beaten with sticks, strangled and their bodies were hanged from the tree.
  • July 11, 2016, Seven members of a Dalit family were badly beaten up by a group og gau rakshaka for skinning a dead cow in a town of Gujarat.
  • April 1, 2017, In alwar, A mob mercilessly beat up Pehlu Khan while he was transporting cows for his small diary farm. Two days later, he died of his wounds.
  • 2018, Army and Police personnel have rescued three sadhus (saints) from getting lynched by a mob, which suspected them to be child-lifters at Mahur Railway Station in Dima hasao of Assam.
  • 2018,  In a similar incident on June 8, two friends who had gone to a picnic spot in Karbi Anglong in Assam, were stopped on their way back by a group of villagers and lynched on the suspicion of being child-lifters.
  • 2018, Police probing the lynching of a 25 year old man mistaken for a child-lifter in Chamarajpet, Bengaluru.
  • On 17 June 2019, Tabrez Ansari of Jharkhand was lynched by a mob. He was tied by a tree and beaten brutally on suspicion to bike theft. Ansari, a muslim was forced to chant ‘Jay Shree Ram’ (Hindu saying). He died several days later. The video of the incident went viral on all the social media platform and came into light across the country.
  • 2019, On the day of Holi, a mob beaten up members of a Muslim family in Gurgoan and asked them to ‘go to Pakistan’, allegedly over a row over cricket.
  • 2019, In Assam a Muslim youth were allegedly forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’, and the prime accused also uploaded a video of the same.
  • 2020 Palghar mob lynching, 0n 16 april, 2020, The two sheers (Sadhus) with their driver were travelling from Kandwali in Mumbai to Gujarat via interior road of Palghar (Gadchinchale village). The three was dragged out of their car and beaten. After that the palghar police came to rescue them but the villagers attacks the police. The police took the victims to the nearby hospital but they were found dead and attack by a mob was on suspicion that they were kidnapping children. The rumors was spread on social media.

This is not a comprehensive list of crimes committed and reported. There are many such cases of lynching which are not been reported by the Police.

This all above cases shows that law and order is weak in front of Mob of seven to eight thousands people and it is very difficult to identify that who is beating to whom and basically who is the leader of the lynching.

As per reports, in the last decade (from 2009 to 2019), 297 hate crimes were reported across India, that led to the death of 987 people while 722 people were injured. Let that number sink in for a moment. And if the following cases are incidents, it does not look like the number will go down any time soon. Muslims were the target of 51% of violence centered on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86% of 28 Indian, killed in 63 incidents. As many as 97% of these attacks were reported after PM Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence- 32 of 63 cases- were from states governed by the BJP when the attacks were reported. Of the 28 Indians who died over the seven year period, 24 were Muslim, or 86%. 

As per the reports, in the last decade ( from2009 to 2019), 297 hate crimes were reported across India, that led to the death of 987 people while 722 people were injured.

Reasons for the mob lynching

Impunity: – In a society, we all think that where we live, we live in fearless society. Where the rate of crime is very low. We expect the fear from law enforcement agencies but we don’t want any fear in the society by the criminals. So we have trust in those agencies to curb the crimes and make a stringent law against such crimes so that who is thinking of doing particular crime and taking law and order in his/her hand should have fear that what are the consequences of his act and how severe is the punishment for such act. But if the fear of punishment will not be there than the crime rate in that society will definitely increase. Let’s think of mob lynching the same that the assailants don’t have any fear of law enforcing agencies so they easily do the murder of people in public because the law and punishment of the act was not there.

Fake news: – In this modern era we see technology as a boon for the mankind. Technology like social media platforms are a fast way to communicate with entire world in whatever place they are in with the help of internet. But with the increase in people’s using of social media platforms like Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook etc, helps in spreading rumors like fire. This rumor leads the people to take law and order in their hands. This rumors spread on social media has one of the most important reason for mob lynching all over the India. With the help of social media the particular rumor like cow slaughtering, child kidnapping, rape etc are spread in the form of messages and videos without any evidence or knowing the truth, innocent people get killed by the mob. Supreme Court has said in his order that “FIR must against a persons spreading such fake/ irresponsible messages, videos”. Misuse of social networking sites by some people to spread rumors and fake news leading to assault and death of innocent people. Social media platforms justify this kind of act.

Whatsapp, in India, has decided to put a cap on the number of chats one can forward a message to in one go. Users will be allowed to forward messages to only five chats at once as against 20 for the rest of the world. So, it is now restricting the ability to forward messages to friends and one group- any users will now be able to forward the same message only five times, and the option to forward will then be blocked on that message.

Steps taken so far

Ek bharat shreshta bharat:- The PM’s stress on a programme that envisages concerted steps to enhance peace and harmony seems intended to talk forward his public comments about diversity and tolerance being the country’s strength. After being criticized for reacting late to the Dadri lynching, Modi has emphasized the need to uphold law and order and maintain peace and harmony in his comments in India and abroad. [6]

‘Not in my name’ campaign:- The #NotInMyName protest is a demonstration scheduled in Delhi and several other cities across the country by citizens against incidents of lynching of Muslims and Dalits. The latest case to hit the headlines was the killing of 15-year-old Junaid Khan who was stabbed to death in Ballabhgarh, Haryana by a mob that mocked his skull cap and called him a beef eater after an argument over train seats escalated. [7]

National Campaign against Mob Lynching (NCAML):- In 2017, The National Campaign against Mob Lynching founded by youth leaders Tehseen Poonawalla, Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mewani and under the drafting committee headed by senior Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde, includes Anas Tanwar and Pranjal Kishore has drafted a MASUKA (Manav Suraksha Kanoon). This is a draft to start a conversation against mob lynching in parliament. This campaign main intention is to appeal to the government that this draft should be converted into law. The draft which is only related to mob lynching. It will define the word ‘mob’ and ‘lynching’ and ‘offensive material’. Lynching will be made a non-bailable offence. Investigation to be conducted by the senior police officers. Given special rights for victims and witnesses. Mandatory state government compensation within 30 days of incidents.

Conclusion

‘The law, the mightiest sovereign in a civilized society’

India has witnessed numerous lynching and mob attacks report from various parts of the country recently, most of which is as a consequence of reaction to the beef-ban orders of the government in the country. There is no doubt that the lynching activities based on identity discriminate against a whole community which violates Article 14 and Article 15 of the Constitution of India. Given the situation of mob attacks in the country presently there is a need for separate legislation and strict implementation procedures to curb the attacks and punish the wrongdoers.  

References

  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/71965246/
  2. http://www.livelaw.in/lynching-parliament-may-create-a-special-law-read-supreme-court-guidelines/
  3. http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/86-dead-in-cow-related-violence-since-2010-are-muslim-97-attacks-after-2014-2014
  4. http://lynch.factchecker.in/
  5. http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/mob%20lynching%20Supreme%20Court%20Judgement.pdf

 

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