Public Outrages: Violence through Protests, Mob Lynching

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        
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Quote: The first and most important thing a man should keep away from is not doing harm of any kind knowingly to anyone, at any time.  - Thiruvalluvar

Reasons behind Lynching

  • Religious Chauvinism: Being a multi-religious and pluralistic society, the religious beliefs or principles play an important role with imposition of one’s beliefs on others. 
    • Ex. Pakistani man Mashal Khan lynched over alleged blasphemy remarks during rally
    • Canadian resident lynched in Punjab's Rupnagar over objection to loud music
    • The recent killings in Punjab over sacrilege issue 
    • Bovine-related mob-lynching
  • Socio-cultural Influences: This includes the historical socio-cultural norms or moral principles which govern a person's behaviour or attitude towards an action. 
    • Ex. India reported 663 lynching due to witchcraft were reported between 2015 and 2021.
  • Feelings of Fear or Hate: Often, the rumours of being kidnappers or actual action of person/s give rise to lynching. 
    • Ex. the killing of Sadhus in Palghar on rumour.
    • In Dimapur (2015) an angry mob lynched a rape accused by breaking into the prison. 
  • Lack of trust in the efficacy of laws: Either due to dissatisfaction from implementation of laws or judicial delays, mob justice is seen by non-state actors as a discharge of public duty.
    • Ex. Recent attack on the house of Panchayat head in Motihari, Bihar by the local public

Ethical Issues involved in Mob violence

  • Dehumanization of the victim: Lynching incidents lead to dehumanisation of individuals or groups leading to ghettoization and hate crimes. 
  • Denial of Justice: Lynching goes against the rule of law and the extra-judicial elements or non-state actors’ award punishment beyond what is deserved under laws. 
  • Weaking of mutual trust: Lynching leads to higher distrust among people and society becomes more mechanical rather than organic, i.e. homogeneity based integration. Being a nation with large diversity, it can create challenges to the unity of nation. 
  • Ambience of  intolerance: The level of intolerance and private security need rises in society as more people start taking law into their own hands for justice. 
  • Encourages use of violence: If not controlled, it can be used over non-agreement and becomes a threat to individual liberty, rationality and logical discussion.

Framework to Combat Mob lynching

Preventive measures

Remedial measures

Punitive Measures

  • Special task force to prevent mob violence 
  • Awareness on lynching by Government
  • FIR under section 153A on messages and videos with content to incite violence
  • FIR without delay and investigation by Nodal Officer
  • Victim Compensation Scheme
  • Fast Track Courts to try cases and Award maximum sentences under IPC
  • Action against police for intelligence or misconduct

Way forward to curb Lynching

  • Integrated laws to curb Lynching: 
  • With police and public order being part of state subjects, India lacks a single law to specifically deal with mob lynching.
  •  In Tehseen Poonawalla vs UOI (2018), Supreme Court issued preventive, remedial and punitive guidelines to deal with mob violence and lynching.
  • Calling it a “horrendous act of mobocracy”, the Supreme Court also asked Parliament to establish lynching as a separate offence with punishment. 
  • Presently, it is mainly dealt under various sections of IPC with a handful of states taking legal initiatives. This includes- Manipur, West Bengal, Rajasthan and recently, by the Jharkhand assembly. 
  • Societal Approach: With involvement of beliefs and emotions, regulation of social behavior is first step to stop mob violence and protect rights conferred to the citizens. 
  • Respect for Law: Law is the mightiest sovereign of a civilized society. Efforts should be made to increase the feeling of law being sacred in society. 
  • Culture of duty: Efforts should be made to universalize the basic duties such as- Duty of Justice, Duty of nonmaleficence etc. as part of social norms or actions. 
  • Governmental Approach: Apart from bringing laws and guiding society on social behaviour, the government should apply emotional intelligence to handle conflicts with equal condemnation of social and political violence to avoid revenge tendencies. 
  • People-centric Approach: As society and government are made by the people, it is vital that people should seek true freedom through a life based on reason (objectivity or rational will), self-control and virtues of empathy, compassion, and humanity.

Guiding Principles: Addressing Mob lynchings

Ethical & Institutional Skillset

  • Emotional Intelligence: 
  • Objectivity: 
  • Impartiality:
  • Compassion Towards Weaker Sections:
  • Laws:
  • Supreme Court Judgement:
  • Constitution: 

Solution to lynching is essential not only for sustenance of law and order but for nation building as well.

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