The act of lynching involves a group of people killing someone, often driven by religious bias or a desire for entertainment, while accusing them of a crime. In situations where one community’s beliefs clash with another’s, it can lead to an illegal act of mob lynching as a consequence of the conflict.
Mob Lynching challenges the very foundations of the law, which is a sine qua non for civilization. According to an India Spend analysis, the number of incidences of mob lynching is increasing every year.
Those who carry out lynching are individuals who seek to exert legal authority without legitimate justification.
The term ‘lynch’ refers to a self-made court that punishes a person without giving them a chance to defend themselves; such actions are based on religious prejudice or rumours, and the cause for this is a mentality clash between different communities.
This word was derived from the name of a Virginia landowner named Charles Lynch, who was the head of an irregular court founded to punish loyalists during the American Revolution.
The Legal Framework on Mob Lynching in India
There is no codified law against Mob Lynching, however, some of the sections of Cr.PC and IPC are adjusted for this matter.
Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
The section 34 of IPC highlights the punishment for Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention. When a criminal act is done by several persons in regard to a common intention, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.
Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
All hate crimes can be penalised under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, relating to foster enmity between people on the basis of religion, race, language and so on.
Section 223 in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Sub-section (a) of Section 223 provides for persons accused for same offence in the course of same transaction to be charged and be subjected to trial together. Whereas, sub-section (b) also involves persons accused for abetment or attempt to commit such offence.
Incidents of Mob Lynching in India
Mob Lynching incidents have always been gut wrenching, some of the infamous examples of Mob Lynching are-
Nagpur Mob Lynching Case- On August 13, 2004, Bharat Kalicharan also known as Akku Yadav, a gangster, robber, home invader, kidnapper, serial rapist, extortionist, and serial killer, was lynched in a courtroom in broad daylight. A bail hearing was scheduled for him on 13 August 2004 in India’s Nagpur District Court. News spread in the neighbouring area that the court may grant his release. Despite the police’s initial plan of detaining him until the situation had calmed, a group of hundreds of women marched from the slums to the courthouse armed with vegetable knives and chili powder. They entered the courtroom and occupied seats towards the front.
Yadav appeared in court between 2:30 and 3:00 PM, exuding an air of confidence without any trace of remorse. He spotted one of the women whom he had previously raped and taunted her, hurling insults and threatening to rape her again. According to reports, the police found this amusing. A group of 200-400 women, who came armed to the courtroom, proceeded to carry out a lynching on Yadav. During the attack, he was stabbed at least 70 times, and the women threw chili powder and stones at him, as well as at the police officers who were guarding him.
Bhiwandi Mob Lynching– In 2006, an incident of lynching, a group primarily consisting of Muslims killed two police constables from the Bhiwandi region of Thane district in Maharashtra. The attack was seen as a response to the killing of two Muslim men by the police, which had provoked strong outrage and anger among the people, leading to the fatal stabbing of the constables.
Dimapur Mob Lynching– On March 5th, 2015, a group of 8000 to 9000 people stormed the Dimapur central jail in Nagaland, where an inmate charged with rape was being held. The mob attacked the inmate, forcing him to strip naked in response to a rising number of rape and sexual harassment charges in the area.
In a separate incident on February 23rd, 2015, Farid Khan and three of his friends assaulted and raped a 20-year-old student from Shri Digambar Jain Girls College. The accused offered her money to keep quiet. An FIR was filed against them on February 25th under sections 476, 363, and 344 of the Indian Penal Code. During the trial, they claimed the intercourse was consensual because money had been exchanged. The furious mob lost control and pelted the accused with stones, dragging one of them for almost 7 kilometres before killing him on the way to the clock tower. His body was then put on display on the clock tower as a warning to deter others from committing similar crimes against women in the future.
Jharkhand Mob Lynching– In 2016, Ansari, aged 32, and Imtiaz Khan, aged 12, both Muslim cattle traders from Jharkhand, were lynched by a mob who accused them of killing livestock and were hanged from a tree. The incident was fuelled by community hostility towards beef consumption in the region, according to the villagers. This gruesome incident has raised serious concerns about the lack of humanity, as stated by Jharkhand Vikas Morcha. The Jharkhand police arrested the accused individuals and brought them to trial a few days later.
Palghar Mob Lynching– In 2019, in the village of Gadchinchale, located in the Palghar District of Maharashtra, India, two Hindu Sadhus and their driver were lynched by a vigilante group. The incident was prompted by WhatsApp rumours of thieves operating in the area amidst the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group of villagers, believing the three passengers to be thieves, mistakenly killed them. When policemen attempted to intervene, they too were attacked, resulting in injuries to four policemen and a senior police officer.
Two Opinions on Mob Lynching
There are usually two different sides and opinions of the public on the issue of mob lynching:
- The first side believes that mob lynching is a heinous crime and goes against the principles of a democratic society. They believe that no one should take the law into their own hands, and that mob justice is not justice at all. They feel that lynching is a barbaric act that often results in innocent people being attacked and killed, and that such incidents damage the social fabric of the country. They demand that the government take strict action against those involved in mob lynching and create laws that ensure the safety and security of all citizens.
- The second side, however, believes that mob lynching is often a result of people’s frustration with the law enforcement system. They argue that in some cases, the law fails to bring justice to victims, and as a result, people take matters into their own hands. They also point out that in many cases, lynching is a consequence of communal tensions and that the media often exaggerates the incidents to create sensational news stories. They demand that the government address the root causes of mob lynching and work towards building a more just and equitable society.
The reasons behind these opinions on mob lynching can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as:
- Social and cultural factors: The first opinion, which condemns mob lynching, is often influenced by social and cultural factors. It emphasizes the importance of rule of law, human rights, and democratic values. People who hold this opinion believe that no one should take the law into their own hands, and that justice must be delivered through legal channels.
- Legal and constitutional factors: The first opinion is also based on legal and constitutional factors. It argues that mob lynching is a criminal offense and violates the fundamental rights of citizens, as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. It calls for strict implementation of laws and regulations to ensure that those who engage in mob lynching are held accountable for their actions.
- Societal frustration and communal tensions: The second opinion, which is more sympathetic towards mob lynching, often stems from societal frustration and communal tensions. People who hold this opinion feel that the government and law enforcement agencies have failed to deliver justice, particularly in cases of communal violence. They believe that mob lynching is a way for people to take matters into their own hands and seek retribution for perceived injustices.
- Media sensationalism: The second opinion also points out that the media often sensationalizes incidents of mob lynching, which can create a distorted picture of reality. People who hold this opinion feel that the media should focus on reporting the facts objectively, rather than playing up incidents of violence to boost their ratings.
In summary, the opinions on mob lynching are influenced by a range of factors, including social and cultural beliefs, legal and constitutional considerations, societal frustration and communal tensions, and media portrayal.
Role of Media and Technology in Propagating Hate Speech and Inciting Violence
Media and technology play a significant role in propagating hate speech and inciting violence by providing a platform for individuals and groups to disseminate their messages to a wider audience. Social media platforms and messaging apps have made it easier for hate groups to organize and mobilize their followers, while online forums and comment sections allow for the dissemination of hateful messages and the targeting of individuals based on their identity.
Moreover, the anonymity provided by online platforms can embolden individuals to engage in hate speech and extremist activities, which can escalate into violence against targeted communities. The spread of fake news and misinformation can also contribute to the creation of a climate of fear and mistrust, which can lead to violent acts.
In addition, mainstream media can also inadvertently contribute to the propagation of hate speech by providing a platform for extremist views or by sensationalizing stories that involve violence against particular communities. Such reporting can fuel xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes among audiences.
Overall, the role of media and technology in propagating hate speech and inciting violence is a complex issue, as these platforms can be used for both positive and negative purposes. However, it is crucial to address the negative impact of media and technology on society by promoting responsible use and regulation of these platforms, as well as by promoting education and awareness about the harmful effects of hate speech and violence.
Possible Solutions to the Menace of Mob Lynching
- Strict enforcement of laws: The government should ensure that the perpetrators of mob lynching are arrested, prosecuted, and punished according to the law. This will send a strong message that such acts will not be tolerated.
- Awareness campaigns: The government and civil society organizations should conduct awareness campaigns to educate people about the dangers of mob lynching and the importance of respecting the rule of law.
- Police reforms: The police should be trained to handle such situations in a sensitive and effective manner. They should also be held accountable if they fail to prevent or respond to incidents of mob lynching.
- Political will: The government should show political will to address the root causes of mob lynching, such as communal tensions, hate speech, and intolerance.
- Empowerment of marginalized communities: The government should take steps to empower marginalized communities and address the inequalities that contribute to their marginalization. This will reduce the likelihood of them being targeted in incidents of mob lynching.
Practical Advisory for the General Public
- Do not take the law into your own hands. If you witness a crime, report it to the police and let them handle the situation.
- Do not spread rumours or participate in hate speech on social media or in public spaces.
- Do not judge people based on their identity, such as their religion, caste, or ethnicity.
- Educate yourself and others about the dangers of mob lynching and the importance of respecting the rule of law.
- Be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the police.
- If you are a victim of mob lynching or witness such an incident, seek help from the police or other authorities immediately.
In summary, solutions to the menace of mob lynching involve a combination of legal, social, and political measures, while practical advisory for the general public should focus on promoting respect for the rule of law, tolerance, and civic responsibility.
“In a civilized society, the law is the most powerful authority.”
Recently, various parts of India have reported numerous cases of lynching and mob attacks, mostly as a reaction to the government’s beef-ban orders. Such activities based on identity discriminate against entire communities, which is a violation of Article 14 and Article 15 of the Indian Constitution. In light of the current situation of mob attacks in the country, it is necessary to introduce separate legislation and strict implementation procedures to prevent such attacks and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mob Lynching in India
Q: What is mob lynching?
A: Mob lynching refers to an act of violence in which a group of people attacks and kills someone, often for an alleged offense or belief, without any legal authority or due process.
Q: What are some of the causes of mob lynching?
A: Mob lynching can be motivated by a variety of factors, including religious or ethnic bias, social or political tensions, rumours or misinformation, or a desire for vigilante justice.
Q: Who are the victims of mob lynching?
A: The victims of mob lynching can be anyone, but they are often individuals from marginalized communities, such as minorities, immigrants, or religious groups that are perceived as different or threatening.
Q: What are the legal consequences of mob lynching?
A: Mob lynching is a serious crime that can result in severe legal consequences, including imprisonment and fines. In some cases, those involved in mob lynching may face charges of murder or manslaughter.
Q: How can we prevent mob lynching?
A: Preventing mob lynching requires a multi-faceted approach, including educating the public about the dangers of mob violence, strengthening law enforcement and judicial systems, promoting social harmony and tolerance, and addressing the root causes of social and economic inequality.