Mob Lynching & Mobocracy: Causes & Implications

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
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What is Mob Lynching?

  • Lynching refers to killing someone for an alleged offence without a legal trial
  • Mob lynching refers to a situation where a lawless mob attempts to take justice into their own hands, rather than following legal due process. (Mob Lynching = collective hate crime).
  • The mob tries to deliver an instant justice based on their own perception of the accused and the crime committed, rather than valid evidence.

Key facts: Mob Lynching

  • According to Home Ministry data, 45 persons were killed in 40 cases of mob lynching across 9 states between 2014 and 2018.
  • The latest NCRB report (2020) did not publish mob lynching statistics since the data was unreliable as these crimes are not defined.
  • As per Hate Crime Watch, Muslims, who constitute 15% of India’s population, were victims in 60% of hate crimes; Christians, 2% of the population, in 15% cases; and Hindus, 80% of the population, in 15% cases.
  • The mindless lynching has been carried out under various pretexts:
    • Cow vigilantism - Violence in the name of protecting cows. For eg. Cases in Alwar, Ajpur, Dadri etc.
    • Caste domination – For eg. A Dalit beaten to death by the Mer community members for allegedly farming on land meant for cattle grazing.
    • WhatsApp and rumour-based lynching- lynching triggered by fake news and rumours. For eg. on the suspicion of being child lifters (Palghar lynching of 2 ascetics)
    • Instant Justice - In number of cases mob took the law in their hands and killed the accused engaged in crimes like theft, rape, murder, child lifting For eg. Recent cases in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
    • Other reasons – attack on People tagged as “COVID – 19 informants” etc. 

Causes of Mob Lynching

  • Political causes: Communal cleavages are exploited to further the narrow, provincial interests of the Political class.
  • Institutional weakness
    • The Government of India maintains no specific data with respect to “lynching”.
    • The Indian Penal Code has no clear provisions for or definition of mob lynching.
    • Poor enforcement of rule of law by the agencies.
    • Weak prosecution, long drawn process of justice and biased agencies propel people to use unlawful means to seek justice.
  • Social causes - Perceived injustice or unequal and unfair treatment by state or another group may lead to violent means to seek equality.
    • The ethnicity and religious identity of the accused is used to whip up anger among the mob. The victims of lynching and hate crime often belong to marginalised groups like Muslim, Adivasi, Dalit, Christian and others.
  • Economic causes – Illiteracy, lack of job opportunities and absence of medium of creative outlets fuels the frustration of the youth and turns them towards anti-social activities such as mob lynching.
  • Role of technology
    • Social media and messaging platforms have become source of spreading fake news, hatred towards minority, inciting fear towards someone or mobilizing a community to do such crimes.
    • Anonymity provided by these platforms allows miscreants to issue open threats to the dissidents and evade tracking by law enforcement agencies.

Impact of Mob lynching

  • On State
    • Lynching is an open challenge to the legitimacy of the State, and India’s core constitutional values of secularism, tolerance, pluralism etc.
    • It destroys law and order in society, transforms democracy into mobocracy and threatens the security of the state.
    • violation of right to life (Article 21 of the constitution)
    • Adversely impacting global perception of India, for eg. Observation made by UNHRC, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Human Rights Watch etc.
  • On Society
    • It creates deep fissures in the unity and integrity of India, especially with its potential to exploit marginalized sections such as poor, Muslims, dalit, women, etc.
    • This may create a feeling of alienation, discrimination, betrayal, and sub-nationalism among the exploited, which can lead to formation of retaliatory groups.
    • This leads to an atmosphere of fear, mistrust among the communities which may cause caste, class and communal hatred and violence.
  • On Economy
    • It impacts both foreign and domestic investment thereby adversely affecting the economy.
    • It directly hampers the migration of people and, thus, impacts the efficient allocation of human resources.
    • Large resources deployed to tackle such menaces induces extra burden on state-exchequer.

Measures taken to counter the menace of Mob Lynching

  • Supreme Court Guidelines : SC recommended that the Parliament may create a special law against lynching.

 

  • Government
    • The Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • 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.
    • The government asked messaging platforms like WhatsApp to find technological solutions to check on the fake messages, rumours, hoaxes etc. The WhatsApp users can now forward messages to only five chats at one time.
    • 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.

  • States level – Anti Mob lynching Laws passed by Manipur, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, W. Bengal etc.
  • Civil Society - The NCAML, a civil society, has released a draft law named “Manav Suraksha Kanoon” (MaSuKa) to curb the menace of mob lynching.

Way forward

  • In no civilized society, the lynching of a person by mob can be justified on any grounds, whatsoever.
  • It is the right time to understand the gravity of the situation, identify the root cause of the problem (socio, economic, political etc.), and devise a comprehensive programme including constructive discussions, introduction of a strong law, effective law enforcement, sensitization towards cultural diversity and marginalised section, and socio economic programmes to harness the vibrant demographic dividend of India.
  • Evils of casteism and communalism have to be eradicated to usher in “New India”.
Samadhaan