Lynchings On The Rise : How Mob Justice Is Taking Over & We’re All Watching As A Mute Spectator

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28-year-old Rakbar Khan was beaten to death by a mob who accused him of cow smuggling in Rajasthan’s Alwar district. A mob dragged Hyderabad Techie with ropes before lynching him over suspicion of cow slaughter. WhatsApp rumours claim lives – 5 dead, 5 injured. Social media hearsay suggested that the victims meant to kill and steal kidney. Qasim dragged and thrashed by a mob in UP between a Hindu dominated Hapur’s Bhajera  Khurd and Muslim dominated Madpur by more than 100 people with only two arrested by the police so far. Hafiz Junaid, Alimuddin, Md. Akhlak, Pehlu Khan, Ayub Pandit, all have the same story to narrate. From Guwahati, Tamil Nadu to West Bengal and Calcutta with more than 50 lynching cases reported,it has now spread across the country.

Activists demand separate laws – Manav Suraksha Kanoon, for preventing the prevailing lynching situations. They believe that the current laws are failing as they don’t define what is a lynching. There aren’t any provisions that prevent lynching or which are focused on providing compensation or rehabilitation as a measure. Neither has it had any provision to take action against the police inaction.

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Activists say that the proposed draft bill tackles police inaction as it attempts to pin responsibility on police as well as the administration. It tells them that in what circumstances they would definitely hold derelict and provides to some punishment in addition to any departmental enquiry and an administrative penalty.

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Penalties are being imposed in the proposed bill such as punishments for actual perpetrators including punishment for life imprisonment, punishment for those who disseminate hatred or hateful messages designed to provoke lynching situations and also punishments for administrations and police.

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The victim calls for the government’s help. PM Narendra Modi said that killing in the name of gau raksha isn‚Äôt acceptable, we need a dossier while these people are vigilantes and 80%of them are ‚Äúanti-social elements‚Äù. This shows that he is concerned about his fellow citizens being lynched. States are also waiting for a central law to be passed so that state assemblies can have an enabling law.

While our honourable Prime Minister with his some of the party members backs the law in the forefront, the instinct of the government still stands redefined when a union minister refers to mob lynching as an accident and the party‚Äôs youth reportedly involved in assaulting social activist,Swami Agnivesh. When the Member of Parliament promises to pay legal fees for lynching accused and the police looks you in the eye and says that the Hapur lynching is a case of ‚Äúroad rage‚Äù. When a Union minister called Akhlaq’s murder as an accident with no communal colours while another minister considers the case of Pehlu khan being lynched as a case of ‚Äúmanhandling‚Äù. In July Union Minister, Jayant Sinha who is the MP from the place where lynching took place garlanded eight of the convicts after they managed to get bail. He said, ‚Äúif by garlanding them, a message has gone out that I am endorsing vigilantism, I regret that‚Äù.

In spite, would the Supreme Court urge the central government to have a separate law on mob lynching? The Officials said, “If you find someone who is suspicious then hand it to the police but you can’t take law in your hand”.

WhatsApp comes up with certain measures to prevent fake news forward. In India, WhatsApp is trying to limit forwarding to 5 chats only while 20 for the rest of the world. The current limit is 250. WhatsApp has also moved the quick forward button next to media messages and thus, believe that these changes will help to keep WhatsApp a private messaging app and prevent spreading of fake news to an extent.

Indeed, the capacity of the general public can’t be ignored. There is a need to make them aware about the fake news WhatsApp forwards and how they can verify it before forming any opinion forget taking laws in their own hands.

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Srishti Chourasia
Studying Journalism from Delhi University, DCAC.

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