The English word “mob” refers to an unruly or chaotic crowd. Lynching, which imposes the death penalty without trial, is a term with American and Latin roots. This is known as mob lynching and occurs when an unruly mob kills or otherwise harms a criminal suspect. Such incidents have recently become commonplace in India, especially in states such as Rajasthan, West Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar. Mob lynching cases were perpetrated for their true cause of hatred with a different label. There are very few or no circumstances in which the claims made have been substantiated. India is a country that is constantly grappling with this issue as it has failed to criminalize the disease despite numerous lynching. Lynching is a premeditated, collective, extrajudicial killing1. It is most commonly used to describe an impromptu public murder carried out by a mob to scare a group or punish a suspected criminal. Similar to charivari, Simington, railing, tear, and feathering, this is an extreme form of informal social group control, often performed in public for maximum intimidation. It should be considered an act of terrorism that should be prosecuted. Lynching and other forms of mob violence occur in every community. Mob lynching have been on the rise in India in recent years. Lynching is a term that refers to a death committed by a mob against legal authority. Caste, religion, geography, politics, witchcraft, and intolerance are the main causes of mob lynching in India.
REASONS AND INCIDENTS OF MOB LYNCHING
The recent rise in mob lynching in India demonstrates the strangely barbaric conduct of people. When a person is lynched by a mob, they may also injure or kill that person if they are seen by the mob as having committed a crime against the community. The following are some well-known mob lynching episodes that took place in India:
MOTIVATED BY RELIGION AND CASTE
In India, there is a long history of violence motivated by caste and religion. The majority of the recent rise in mob lynching can be attributed to intolerance and animosity toward other religions and castes in the guise of proclamation, practice, traditions, and caw. A rumor of cow slaughter led to the killing of five Dalits from Haryana in 2002, and more recent riots in Muzzafarnagar and Kokraijhar show that caste and religion play a role in mob lynching (Bakshi & Nagarajan, 2017). In the first instance of a mob killing a person in the name of cow or beef. Mohammad Akhlaq and his son Danish were killed in Bidara village, Uttar Pradesh, in September 2015 after the mob accused them of stealing, butchering, and storing a cow-calf for consumption2.
PALGHAR MOB LYNCHING, 2020
The most recent and serious incident that seriously startled the nation and caused humanity to collapse. Two Hindu Sadhus and their driver were lynched by a vigilante mob on April 16, 2020, at Gadchinchale Village, Palghar District, Maharashtra, India. WhatsApp rumours of robbers being active in the neighbourhood during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown fueled the incident. The three travellers were slain because the vigilante villagers thought they were robbers. Four police officers and a senior police officer were hurt when police officers who intervened were also attacked. The Maharashtra police have detained 115 villagers as of May 4 on suspicion of murder. Following the tragedy, rumours were circulated to fuel religious animosity. Anil Deshmukh, the home minister for Maharashtra, published a comprehensive list of those detained on April 22 and claimed that none of them was Muslims. According to the administration, the attackers and the victims belonged to the same religion. In the past, rumours spread via WhatsApp have sparked lynching and attacks in India, where the rapid spread of false information has resulted in violent repercussions. Fake news frequently involves reports of kidnappings of children or roving bandits3.
The villagers established a vigilante group after hearing rumours of possible nighttime activities by organ harvesting gangs and kidnappers in the area. A WhatsApp rumour that said a group of young robbers was active in the region during the lockdown was spreading around the hamlet, according to the Gadchinchale Sarpanch (village head). At the time of the occurrence, India was on national lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The villagers assumed the people inside the car were part of the child thief group because the car arrived at night.
The 70-year-old Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri, the 35-year-old Sushilgiri Maharaj, and the 30-year-old Nilesh Telgade, their driver, were on their way to Surat to attend their Guru Shri Mahant Ramgiri’s burial. A forest department sentry halted their automobile at a local checkpoint in Gadchinchale, 140 kilometres north of Mumbai, at around 10 pm. The vigilante group approached them and attacked them with sticks and axes while they were speaking to the sentry. According to The Indian Express, the victims were thought to be child thieves and organ harvesters. The police attempted to contain the throng, but when they intervened, they were battered, according to accounts that appeared on April 17. In the event, four police officers and a senior police officer were hurt.
Several spectator recordings went viral on April 19. A policeman can be seen escorting Kalpavrukshagiri from a structure in one of the videos. While the police attempt to maintain order, Kalpavrukshagiri is seen pleading for his life as the mob attacks him. He is then taken by the attackers, who kill him. A police patrol car’s windows are broken by the mob in another video. Another video shows the car rolling over with the glass shattered. On April 19, this incident sparked uproar across the country as the footage on social media went viral and the Maharashtra Government came under fire.
Devendra Fadnavis, a former chief minister of Maharashtra, and Yogi Adityanath, the chief executive of Uttar Pradesh, are two opposition figures who have called for a high-level investigation into the incident. On April 20, Mahant Hari Giri, the Mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara, called for immediate action against the lynching’s perpetrators and the police.
Home Minister Amit Shah was urged by Uddhav Thackeray to take action against individuals who were inciting religious conflict. Sachin Sawant, the general secretary of the Maharashtra State Congress, accused the BJP of engaging in “communal politics” in response to the lynching. “For the past ten years, including the position of the village head, the village of Divashi Gadchinchale has been known as a BJP stronghold. The present leader is also a BJP member. The majority of those detained in connection with the lynching are BJP members.” The BJP refuted the allegations.
The Maharashtra police chief was requested by the National Human Rights Commission of India to send a report detailing the legal actions against the offenders and any relief given to the victims’ families within four weeks.
On May 24, 2020, a seer named Shivacharya Guru was murdered in Nanded4, and on May 29, 2020, a seer in Palghar was the victim of another incident.
AFTERMATH OF LYNCHING ON THE SOCIETY
India is growing in power around the world, but the Horde seems to have the law in their hands and nothing can be done to stop them. In India, crime is still ongoing and there is no end in sight. The Equal Human Rights Commission is also responsible for the life-saving right to life protected by Section 2 of the Human Rights Act and indiscriminately eradicated in India. The central government does not provide compensation. At least some limits may have been put in place to stop these atrocities. Some state governments have even paid compensation in cases that seemed plausible, but that does not do justice to the families or states that failed to provide this assistance. More than half of the incidents go unreported due to a lack of data and evidence but are generally known. The National Criminal Records Bureau has been unable to classify mob lynching as a specific crime. This crime is atrocious and a complete disaster to save human life. That’s why we choose the government. We want to avoid being exposed to such crimes and instead want to be rescued and protected. Victims suffer the most as their homes are destroyed and families are torn apart. What will mothers and children do with their lives when their primary breadwinner dies? They remain ignorant and illiterate for the rest of their lives. There are no laws to protect the families of lynched victims. At least the irreversible part should not be the cause of her pain. Crime is high in India, but few crimes require government compensation. This is one such situation that can only be addressed if the government criminalizes mob lynching. Every day, people die as a result of these hate crimes, often unaware that they are in such a horrific situation when their own lives are in danger. To protest hate crimes like this, people are turning to social media to raise awareness and serve as a voice for their country without resorting to physical violence.
LAW AND ORDER ON MOB LYNCHING
Although mob lynching has a long history in India and is a horrific crime that violates basic human rights, there is no national law against it. However, national laws like the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Constitution, and the Protection of Human Rights,1993 Act may be connected to lynching offenses. The National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), the main repository of government information on crime in India, does not keep track of specific lynching incidents. People or a mob implicated in the same offense in the same act “may be tried jointly,” according to Section 223(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The identical clause has not, however, been applied to administer justice thus far (Abraham and Rao,2017).
Lynching incidents are typically reported under section 302 for murder5, section 3076 for attempted murder, section 324 for injury7, section 147 for rioting8, and other sections of the Indian Penal Code. Sections of the Indian Penal Code such as 153A (promote hatred between groups and act against maintaining harmony), 153B (act against maintaining national integration)9, 295A (acts intended to offend religious feelings), and 295B (words intended to offend religious feelings)10 are regarded as the country’s hate crime laws. It has been noted that these rules have not been included in police First Information Reports against the accused in the majority of lynching cases. Furthermore, data is not supplied that is broken down by identified groups, even when hate crimes have been reported under these sections. The distinction between the “victim” and the “perpetrator” in these circumstances cannot be made (Citizens against hate, 2017).
The ‘community violence’ cases included in the NCRB report are similar, with only a brief note from the agency identifying the perpetrators and victims. After all, the above conservative laws produce at best insults when peace and harmony are disturbed and the religious sentiment is undermined. Little has been done to punish “hate-motivated” behaviour that is indirectly implicated in crimes committed against vulnerable populations by the majority of groups. Hate crimes are violent and coercive acts, usually committed against established communities that have been marginalized and stigmatized (Minority Rights Group, 2014:11). Therefore, hate crime rules are not power-neutral. Rather, they exist to protect the weak. When the Legal Commission proposed introducing a new section 153C to the IPC, prohibiting “incitement to hatred” beyond inciting hostility and undermining national unity was considered hateful to India. It was recognized that there were no criminal laws. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act of 201511, which criminalizes violence and atrocities against Dalit and indigenous communities, the most oppressed areas of Indian society, has not been included in the Hate Crimes Act in the Indian legal system. The closest thing. Hate crimes against them are classified below as SC/ST crimes. However, the SC/ST law does not cover other socially disadvantaged groups, including persons with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic minorities, or those identified as Dalits among Muslims and Christians. Not intended for groups. As a result, hate crimes against these minorities are not recorded. The main sources of information on hate crimes against religious minorities in India are media coverage and sporadic academic research, but inadequate, as there is no official record. International and national organizations are helping victims of mob lynching. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights12 guarantees equality before the law, equal treatment before the law, and protection from discrimination. Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “the promotion of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes discrimination, enmity or incitement to violence is prohibited by law.”. Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination13 deals, inter alia, with incitement and acts motivated by racial superiority or hatred. Last but not least, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution14 guarantees that all citizens receive equal protection and equality before the law. Furthermore, Article 1515 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex, ethnicity, or religion, and Article 2116 of the Constitution guarantees that all citizens have the right to life and liberty.
Without a doubt, crowded mechanisms have no place in democracies; the sociology of the crowd is the product of individual thought or can be interpreted as popular indignation of a specific crime. In any event, one cannot take the law into their own hands. It will have to go back to the traditional tribal penal system. Instead of simply following the crowd without understanding its goals, it is better to endeavour to correct it as part of one’s social ethical, and national obligation. This is both a time demand and a necessity.
- Mohammad Ali, Akhlaq’s family booked for cow slaughter, The Hindu(16th July,2016 03:16 IST) Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Akhlaq%E2%80%99s-family-booked-for-cow-slaughter/article14491380.ece
- Gautam S. Mengle,3 lynched in Palghar after rumours over mistaken identity, The Hindu (APRIL 18, 2020 01:15 IST) Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/3-lynched-in-palghar-after-rumours-over-mistaken-identity/article31371237.ece
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 302, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 307, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 324, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 147, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 153 A & B, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860,$ 295 A & B, Act No. 45,Acts of Parliament,1860(India)
- The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,No. 33 of 1989, Acts of Parliament,1989(India)
- UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III), available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html [accessed 10 September 2022]
- UN General Assembly, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 21 December 1965, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 660, p. 195, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3940.html [accessed 10 September 2022]
- The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 14
- The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 15
- The Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 21
This article has been written by Jay Kumar Gupta. He is currently a second-year BBA LL.B.(Hons.) student at the School of Law, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore.