Mob Lynching: A Heinous Act against Humanity

This blog is inscribed by Rashmi Singh.

Mob lynching is a term used to describe any act or series of acts of violence, performed by a group of people to lynch someone. It results in loss of livelihood, injuries and death of persons by a violent crowd. The mob has the belief that the person who is being punished is guilty of doing something wrong. Instead of seeking the help of law and other authorities, they try to do justice by taking law in their hands.

Mob Lynching in Recent Times

Reportedly, about 113 people in India have become the victim of mob lynching since 2015. Taking the view of increasing mob lynching cases in our country, The Protection From Lynching Act, 2017 was passed to protect the rights of vulnerable person, for rehabilitation of victims and their families and to provide for Special Courts to guarantee a speedy trial and witness protection.

 In 2018, the Supreme Court described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”.  The Court directed Central and State Government to frame laws for lynching. There is no law as of now, which deals with lynching in India, though Section 223 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 contains provision for the persons having been charged for an offence 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.

Causes of Mob Lynching

Mob lynching is resultant of rumors and fake news among group of people related to any matter. These days, rumors can be spread very easily through social networking sites such as Facebook, twitter, and WhatsApp.  The technology which is considered as a boon for mankind, because of its misuse by some people to spread rumors and fake news is leading to assault and death of innocent people. In the recent times, many incidents have been caused by the misuse of social networking sites and others sources.

In 2020, there was a case of mob lynching which drew a lot of controversy was Palghar mob lynching case. In Palghar, two monks along with their driver were going to Surat. A rumor spread in the village that they are members of organ trafficking gang and they kidnap children for organs. Due to this rumor, the group violent people killed three of them in front of police. Police was even not able to control them as they were in large number. After this incident, many people started viewing it as a communal topic. Later on, 101 people list was issued against whom the case has been filed. It was made clear that there was no Muslim community was involved in this.  This shocking news came amid the lockdown due to corona virus outbreak. People did not care about the social distancing and lockdown rules and committed such heinous act of violence.  

In our country, mob lynching is often seen in the light of communalism. It is an offence against humanity, not against any religion or community. Politics and communalism should not over shadow the law. Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi also said that we must unite to condemn lynching and refrain from politicizing them. It is important to serve justice and punish the offenders than to pressurize the government and distract people in the name of religion or community as a base.

 The main reason for increasing cases of mob lynching in India is impunity or exemption from punishment. Many victims do not get proper justice as the act is done by crowd and crowd has no face. Punishment for mob lynching is not specific. It depends upon the facts of the case. Not only have the no. of cases been increased but also the size of mob. It is not important fact if the mob was right or wrong but the matter of concern is that nobody can take law in their hands. It is not apt to violate law. If any wrong act is done then there is a judiciary for giving justice.

Notable Cases Involving Mob Lynching

Dadri mob lynching – In Bisara village, a group of villagers attacked a Muslim man Mohammad Akhlaq’s house as they have suspicion of cow slaughtering in the house. Mohd. Akhlaq died in the incident and his son was badly injured. This case garnered political and religious issues. 19 people were charged in this case. The victim’s family was given compensation and later on, deceased relatives requested the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to close the further inquiries in the case as they are satisfied with the monetary help and progression of the case.

Ayub Khan Lynching – On 23rd June, 2017, in Jammu and Kashmir, a group of people alleged a police officer Mohammed Ayub Khan for clicking pictures near the mosque. He open fired at the group of people to disperse the mob, but he was lynched by them.

Alwar mob lynching- A dairy farmer from Haryana, Pehlu Khan, along with some other farmers, was returning from Rajasthan to his village.  A group of 200 people stopped them, as he was carrying cows and calves. Pehlu Khan showed them the all relevant papers which state that the cattle were for increasing milk capacity, but they did not listen him and beaten him to death. This incident caused a great havoc and was widely condemned.

Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India[1] on 17th July, 2018   – A writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court for seeking immediate and necessary protection where groups under the disguise of cow protection commit lynching. The court gave guidelines and measures for preventing the incidents, remedies and criminalization of such activities. It also advocated the set up of fast track courts or special courts to try the cases of lynching and mob violence.

 Mohd. Haroon & others v. Union of India[2] A writ petition was filed in relation to riots that broke in and around Muzaffarnagar District in Uttar Pradesh. Due to the communal tension caused in the city, people were forced to leave their house because of fear to their lives. It was claimed that local administration failed to enforce law. It was held that victims of mob violence cannot be discriminated on the basis of any community or religion. The relief and rehabilitation is available to all despite their community or religion. The Supreme Court also stated that it is the duty of the State Administration and intelligence agencies both working at Centre or State  to prevent recurrence of the communal violence in any part of the state. 

 Probable Way Forward

Government should make specific law for mob lynching. The spread of misleading contents and rumors should be stopped. There should be check on the news being spread through social media and other mediums. There is no codified law for lynching in India. The punishment for the same should be prescribed and it should be of such nature that it creates fear and prevent people from committing such heinous crime.

Mob lynching challenges the authority of the state and imposes a question on our judicial system. State has the duty to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens but cases such as this are the places where state is seemed to be hand tied. This creates a sense of fear in the people as to their security.


[1] Writ Petition (Civil) No 19 of 2018

[2] Writ Petition (Criminal) No 155 of 2013


References

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/alwar-lynching-pehlu-khan-gau-rakshak-accused-acquitted-1580874-2019-08-14

https://www.lawnn.com/tehseen-s-poonawalla-v-union-of-india

https://thewire.in/communalism/mob-cow-lynching-vigilante

https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-mob-lynching-7-instances-which-shook-india-2639925

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