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This article is co-authored by Ananya Saxena and Aryan Mewada, from DNLU, Jabalpur.

The oldest and the greatest manuscript of the whole world, Rig Veda Lays down that:

              ‘संगच्छध्वं संवदध्वं सं वो मनांसि जानताम्।

It means O men! Go together harmoniously; speak together; understand one another’s mind’. It is ignonimous that the country to which these texts belong, is indulging in the hate crime of mob lynching and making religion, inter alia as the basis of it. Mob Lynching in India came up altogether as violative of the traditions of this land of Sanatan Dharma and above all humanity. Law is sine qua non for the society and Mob Lynching shakes the very foundation of laws.

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Mob lynching, in India has been a crime with Latent threat dwelling in the minds of people. Majority fear the minority and minority are afraid of majority, making it as a perpetuating thread of fear leading to crime of Mob Lynching. 

While there are so many reasons which can be attributed as the cause of mob lynching, religion and absence of respect for and belief in the justice delivery system of the country are foremost of them. Sometimes, misunderstanding of the historical principles also ignites the fire. For example, dharmo (religion or laws) rakshati rakshitah, a shlok in Manusmriti defines Dharma as rules or laws and not as religion because the writer is the first lawgiver and in fact did not even know about the existence of any other religion than Hinduism. However, what is being interpreted is too axiomatic to manifest.

On looking at it from widening its roots, Mob lynching is an effect of the fear created in the minds of the people. This fear is the result of numerous operations of the past. This communal hatred in so-called harmonic India, has been raised since the time of establishment of the Delhi sultanate. From that time, it has always been a race of superiority. During the invasion of India by sultans from Foreign countries, Hinduism (only religion of India till then) suffered a lot and people started targeting each other. This endless striving has created fear in both vigilante old and unformed young minds. Their understanding and knowledge too have been crippled under the war of struggle between Ramayana and Kuran. The incidents of Sikh Riots in Delhi or Valley struggle of Kashmiri pandits has always been the glorifying example of dominance in the perturbed world.
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Mob lynching also signifies the ignoble mentality and absence of belief in the offenders of mob lynching for the justice delivery system and police administration. So, another factor responsible for this hate crime is the loss of people’s faith in the Rule of Law. People have started believing in the principle of Justice delayed, justice denied. There are only 19 judges per million people in our country and this generally contributes to the problem that numerous times our system takes too much time to deliver justice. Moreover, several people think that the justice that should have been done is different from the justice which is being done by the courts. Especially, in cases of cow slaughters, the Hindus think that as law is not going to adequately punish the sinners of our mothers we should ideally hold the rod of Justice ourselves. Sometimes, people also have a belief that the delay in delivery of Justice reduces the effect of Justice so they themselves comprehend punishment to the assumed culprit. Instances such as the delay in delivery of justice in the Delhi gang rape case ultimately provokes people to act as self-sworn Judges without contemplating on what actually the justice is from the perspective of the established laws of the country. If, somehow, the faith of the people in the justice delivery system is replenished, the number of cases of mob lynching maybe reduced. 

India is severely suffering from this hate crime of mob lynching. And, the recent mob lynching of three people including two sadhus in the state of Maharashtra is an addition to this burning problem. The incidence has taken the problem of mob lynching to another level. The striking feature of this recent mob lynching is the shrinking of duty on the part of cops. Not only if the three were not guilty of the alleged offences but also even if those three people were guilty of the alleged offences, Police should have tried to save them as this is the duty of the police to let those three people have a fair trial in the court and does not let anybody take law into their own hands. If the fact that those three people were really guilty is true and police already knew that fact, then the absence of any action for saving them from the mob would make one infer that even the police does not believe in the justice delivery system of the country. 

Were they attacked on religious grounds? Another face of the story to ponder upon. The unreasonable Religious practices and hypocrisy have always been the biggest barriers in the pour of law. Be it the issue of Jihaad, or Cow vigilantism, some unreasonably religion-oriented people from both sides have initiated the substantial part of the fight. These people not realizing the aftermaths of their actions, argue and protest to fight for their religion. Mob Lynching is just but a different name to the communal riots. There have been numerous other factors contributing to the Mob Lynching. The lack of knowledge and joblessness have also been the side players bringing the major change in the activities and understanding of people. These factors have disturbed the thinking capacity of the people. The thinking of people attributing Mob Lynching as a heroic deed which will earn them laurels has also been helpful in ploughing the field for this Latent crime of hate. This mischievious capacity of people is on an increase now-a-days. Moreover, some people believe in what they see or listen, without any check. One can go to the extent of saying that most of the times, mob lynching is done because of the rumours. The incident happened in 2019 in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambal district in which a man who was taking away his seven-year old nephew was brutally lynched on the assumption that he was a kidnapper is one of the finest example of this fact.

The reasonableness of masses has been deteriorated to a great extent in the modern era.  Rabindranath Tagore in his famous text, Gitanjali wrote these lines:

“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way, into the dreary desert sand of Dead Habits

Into that world, My Father let my country awake”

His prayer now seems to be unanswered as people have stopped searching reasons. All the incidents of Mob Lynching lack reasonableness, in general. They have all been the coupled effect of the reasons discussed above.

There are mainly two ways by which one can be stopped from doing an offence. One is to inculcate fear in the mind of the offender about the consequences of his offences. History is the testimony of the fact that offences can be reduced by way of such punishments which have a deterrent effect. The other way to curb the number of offences is to know that why someone is committing an offence and then counter that mentality of the offender so that the other actors who were going to do the same offence do not do it due to being a victim of the same mentality. 

Growing incidents of mob lynching highlight the need of a separate law on mob lynching. At present, there is no specific law in India to deal with the offence of mob lynching. The courts, at present have to resort to too many provisions like Sections – 302, 304, 307, 323, 325, 34 etc. of Indian Penal Code in order to punish the offenders of mob lynching. The issue with applying so many provisions is that one has to prove the crimes given in every section that too beyond reasonable doubts. It created suspicion in the minds of people and moreover, Precedents and Judgements by these Laws have never been clear enough to produce deterrence. in order to establish that the offence of mob lynching has happened. Another thing is that every section has too many precedents to cite, which makes actual Law weak enough to be obeyed. This is how the case becomes complex and put judges in a problem. As obvious, this is time taking too. This makes establishing the crime and producing a deterrent effect difficult.

Furthermore, in the vague of the effectiveness of the existing laws, a new law should be enacted. The new law should be able to provide for a nodal officer as well as the establishment of the fast track courts for the cases of mob lynching. At present, hate speech is generally construed as and includes spreading hatred against a community or the state or the government established by law. However, it can be seen that mob lynching does not happen only due to these reasons, sometimes, murder, rape, abduction or even theft becomes the reason behind it. The new law can extend the connotation of the phrase hate speech for the purpose of establishing the offence of mob lynching. The Supreme Court also, in the landmark judgment of Tahseen S Poonawalla v. Union of India, gave guidelines to the central government to make a separate law to deal with the offence of mob lynching, considering the gravity of the matter. However, the central government is against making a separate law on mob lynching.

The suggestions to curtail this crime need to be as diversified as are its reasons. Police should try to form a body or council or even the panchayat body, who are the active participants in the village issues. This committee must be assigned the task to report any such rumour or issue immediately to the police. A wide spread campaign promoting Human Rights must be launched in all the blocks on periodic bases. Also, all those pretentious leaders who are trying to provoke people to indulge in mob lynching must be arrested. Moreover, the laws controlling transfer of information through technology must be revised for a better check and control as Rumors too have added to the agony to the rage of the people.

The enactment and proper enforcement of a new separate law on mob lynching will be very much helpful. However, the state should also be aware that the spirit subsumed in the principle:

 “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”

(Law is higher than everyone) of rule of law will prove to be greatest weapon in this war against the hate crime of mob lynching if the idea is inculcated in the mind of people. And, the sine qua non for this implantation is the replenishment of faith of people in the justice delivery system of the country.

The problem of Mob Lynching is not a trivial issue anymore. It requires Grit, guts and gumption of society as a whole to remove it. It should be dealt effectively with a new weapon of Law to curtail the old evil of Mob Lynching.

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  1. Great going guys . A deep insight of the issue very powerfuly presented. Keep writing….. looking forward for more such articles from you 🙂

  2. Great going guys….quite an elaborate insight of the issue. Keep writing…will look forward for more such articles 🙂


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