Lynching in India: All You Need To Know

What is lynching? Why have we started reading this word everywhere now? Is this something that has been happening over the years? Why does mob lynching continue abated?

Let’s start by discussing the meaning of the word lynching.

Lynching is the extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, punish a convicted transgressor, or intimidate. In other words, lynching is the execution done by a mob to punish someone without waiting for judgement by the courts and without even checking whether the person is the culprit or not. 

The cases of mob lynching have been exponentially increasing in the last few years. Although this is not something which is new and if we dig deeper then we realise that mob lynching has been a part of the society for 100 years but in India, we see that since the early 2000s the rage in mob lynching is increasing.

The terror that the lynching has on the victim is unimaginable and indelible. The recent case of mob lynching is not even a month old but it will give you an idea of its impact. The incident occurred on 22nd September around 10:00, three villagers were attacked by a mob which accused them of slaughtering a cow (gaumata) and the mob decided to punish them and beat them till one of the accused was dead. 

The point which should be taken into account is that police reached the spot but has no clarity of what had happened and the culprits roam freely among us. Now that you know what mob lynching is, a question that may arise is that why these are allowed to happen? Why the government does not make a law to stop it? Well, for now, hold onto that thought and we will discuss it in the later section.

Recent Cases of Mob Lynching

Even if you try, you cannot unheed the aftermath of this crime. Some of the popular lynching cases are as follows.

2020 Palghar mob lynching

On 16th April 2020, an incident took place where a vigilante group lynched two Hindu sadhus and their driver in palghar district in Maharashtra. The group mistook those passengers as thieves and took the judgement in their hands and killed the sadhus. 

The police reached on spot but unfortunately, they couldn’t stop anything and on the contrary, the police were attacked. After a month, the police arrested 115 villagers on charges of murder. The home minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh posted a complete list of the people arrested on April 22nd.

West Bengal Lynching Case

After the beef ban in India, a rapid increase in the lynching could be seen and lynching because of beef-eating has covered almost 75% of the total lynching cases in the past 5 years.

On 26th June 2017 three Muslim people were lynched in a village in West Bengal. A group of vigilante suspected them of being involved in cow theft and beat the suspected people till death. The victims were identified as Nasirul Haque (30), a resident of Kutipara, Mohammad Samiruddin (32), a resident of Kandarpara, and Mohammed Nasir (33) from Dhalugunj. The three persons accused have been arrested by the police. The police had later confirmed that they were indeed cow thieves and also had a previous record.

Guwahati Lynching Case

On 8th June 2018, a lynching took place in a village in Assam. It was a violent incident that involved a mob vigilante comprised of 250 people who attacked two men who were under the suspicion of child trafficking and beat the two men to death and not surprisingly, it was a case of mistaken identity.

The incident took place because the mob believed fake WhatsApp forwards. After the investigation by police, 36 people were arrested for vigilante killing.

Junaid Lynching Case:

On 22nd June 2017, a 15-year-old boy was lynched for following Muslim religion. The incident took place on a train. Junaid was waylaid in the moving train, knifed a couple of times and then thrown out at a station to bleed to death. The family still is in trauma and his bather has lost 25 kilos since and his brother Shakir was also attacked by the group and got his one arm immobilised. Now, the terror has set in the family and nobody can use the train for transportation.

Alwar Lynching Case

On 5th April 2017, a mob lynching took place in Nuh district of Haryana where a farmer, Pehlu Khan was attacked and beaten to death by a mob of cow vigilantes and the group included 200 people. There were 6 other people with Pehlu Khan and they were also beaten by this group. After investing on the matter, the police have arrested three people Kalu Ram aged 44 of Ratanpura, Vipin Yadav aged 19, and Ravindra Yadav aged 30 from Behror for this crime.

Dhule Lynching Case:

On 1st July 2018, a mob of vigilantes attacked Bharat Shankar Bhosale (45), his brother Dadarao Bhosale (45), Raju Bhosale (45), Bharat Malwe (47), and Anagu Ingole (22) and beaten them to death due to the suspicion of their involvement in child lifting. All the member of the mob belonged to the nomadic Nath Gosavi community. 

The clips of the incident were surfaced on social media and the involvement of a minor in the crime could also be seen in the video. After the investigation by police, Maharu Pawar and Hiralal Gawli were arrested by the police and were also in the video. The CM said that the compensation of 10 lakh rupees will be paid to the relatives of each victim and the case would be fast-tracked. SP also warned everyone to stop spreading rumours on social media or else they will face actions under IPC

Akhlaq Lynching Case

On 28th September 2015 in a village near Dadri, Uttar Pradesh a mob of villagers attacked a Muslim man’s house for the suspicion of slaughtering a cow. The angry mob entered the house of 52-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq and attacked him with knives, sticks and bricks and beaten him to death. 

The son of Mohammed Akhlaq., Danish was seriously ill. The police did the investigation and found the evidence of cow meat and then concluded that he was not storing beef for consumption.

Government Rules and Regulations

In the context of lynching, the Supreme Court in 2018 described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy” and laid down some guidelines for the Centre and State governments to frame laws depending on the types of lynching.

After the guidelines by the honourable Supreme Court, the Manipur government was the first state to formulate laws on lynching in 2018.

Following the guidelines, the Manipur government came up first with its Law against lynching in 2018.

1. The Manipur Law defined mob lynchings as “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.”

2. The law appoints officers in all the districts to control lynching.

3. This law is the first in the country that deals with the rights and safety of the vulnerable section of the society.

4. The law states that if the police officer in the area has failed to control such crimes, then he /she may serve prison time of 3 years with 50,000 rupees fine.

5. All hate crimes can now be penalised under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.

6. Under this law, no prior sanction is required to register crimes against public officials which couldn’t be possible earlier without the permission of the state government.

This was one of the first affirmative step taken to control such vehement crimes and the step was taken by the Manipur government also inspired other states to come up with laws to stop the prevalence of these crimes.

West Bengal also formulated a law which made the punishment for lynching to death, lifetime imprisonment and a fine up to 5 lakh rupees or the death penalty.

But as we still hear about these incidents very regularly, we have not been successful to curb these cases, there is still a long way to go and we have started working on the laws to stop this horrendous activity. While we have started seeing the punishments for doing these crimes but we have still not formulated anything for the victims or their family.

These cases are not just once in a while case anymore. The frequency of these crimes is horrifying and every state should formulate more inclusive and extensive laws to stop the lynching.

Written by - Rashi Jain

Edited by - Arnav Mehra

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