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Rising mob violence in India

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For the past 18 years, India has been witnesses an unusual increase in crime related to mob violence, in the name of religion, kidnapping etc. Though, the epidemic spread in the form of vigilant against cow slaughter, later in spread to kidnapping and other sorts of crimes. According to unofficial estimates around 120 people have killed through the country.

What is a mob violence?

Lynching, a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, executes a presumed offender, often after inflicting torture and corporal mutilation. The term lynch law refers to a self-constituted court that imposes sentence on a person without due process of law.

What are the reasons?

Rise of cow vigilante

Even since, Government imposed a ban on the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across India, under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals statutes (26th May 2017), it sparked a new wave of cow vigilante in the country. Though the Supreme Court, suspended the ban on the sale of cattle in its judgment in July 2017, giving relief to the multi-billion dollar beef and leather industries and several states where beef is one among the primary foods there was a rise in attacks on Muslims accusing them as beef eaters. Several dozen innocent Muslims were killed in such mob attack. But human rights experts fee mob lynching is not a right and the apt term description of such violence, they seek to highlight the organisations or group of vicious individuals who are instigating such incidents. These incidents are usually appearing to be sporadic in nature and often a spontaneous response from the Hindus who are generally furious over the reports of cow smuggling and slaughter. But mostly it is not.

Silence of political class

Despite the rising mob violence, the political class and bureaucracy continued remain a silent spectator. The human rights observers, feel political class in behind the rise mob lynching since most of the people who are ruling the country retained or captured the power through political system which aggressive and violent. Besides, they have built their political career propagating violence against minorities, where the mobs feel empowered and strong. The political class, apart from their customary condemnation, they avoid visiting the victims or their surviving families.

Rumours of child lifters

Rumours of child kidnappers proved to an ignition point for mob violence, where WhatsApp posts were circulated Odisha, Tamilnadu, Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana, Tripura and West Bengal. This claimed several lives on domestic visitors, mentally deranged peoples and incited numerous mob attacks. According to various reports, at least 20 persons have been killed and several injured in incidents of mob violence sparked by rumours of child kidnapping in 10 states for the past three months. Lack of proper policing

The incidents of mob violence, sparked by rumours about child lifters are totally connected lack of public confidence in the police. Common man feels police lack the ability to track down the criminals and recover the kidnapped children. According to home ministry figures, 54,723 child kidnapping cases (2016), 41,893 cases (2015), 37,854 cases (2014).It was found that the police filed charges against the kidnappers in only 40 per cent cases in 2016 and around 23 per cent of the cases decided in 2016. Practically speaking around three out of four people put to trial for child kidnapping walked free. Besides, state governments should be vigilante and try to prevent mob violence triggered by rumours. One way could be to keep detect rumours circulating on social media in their respective areas well before the public vents its anger and frustration at the innocent individuals.

Government initiatives

A)Creation of nodal officers
Central government on its part has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching. In its advisory, the Home Ministry said, the nodal officer should be of superintendent of police-level officer. 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 or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news. Home Ministry said, the process of identification should be done within a period of three weeks. The Ministry said, wherever it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to comply the directions to prevent such crime of mob violence and lynching, it should be considered as an act of deliberate negligence and misconduct and strong action must be taken against the official concerned. The advisory has been sent to the states and Union territories following a Supreme Court directive issued in this regard on 17th of this month.
Home Ministry asked state governments to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit. The Ministry said, police should register FIR against persons who disseminate irresponsible and explosive messages and videos having content which is likely to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind.

B) Creation of Two high level committees
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. One of the committees is being headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and the other by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba. The move came a week after the Supreme Court asked the Central government to enact a law to deal with incidents of lynching and take action on mob violence. The government respects the recent directions of the Supreme Court on the issue of mob violence and has issued an advisory to State governments urging them to take effective measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching, and take stringent action as per the law. In order to formulate appropriate measures to address the situation, the government has set up a high-level committee chaired by Union Home Secretary Gauba to deliberate upon the matter and make recommendations. The Secretaries of the justice, legal affairs, legislative, and social justice and empowerment departments are members of the committee. The committee will submit its recommendations to the government within four weeks. The government has also decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Home Minister Singh to consider the recommendations of the high-level committee of the Secretaries. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot are members of the GoM. The GoM will submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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