Mob Lynching

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    In News 

    • Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) discontinued data collection on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism.
      • Earlier, NCRB collected data on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism in 2017.

    Why does NCRB discontinue the collection of data?

    • It was observed that the data was unreliable as these crimes etc. have not been defined. 
    • The term ‘anti-national’ is not defined in law.
      • The word “anti-national has not been defined in statutes”.
        • However, there is criminal legislation and various judicial pronouncements to sternly deal with unlawful and subversive activities which are detrimental to the unity and integrity of the country.”
        • Article 31D of the Constitution, which defined “anti-national activity”, and was “inserted during Emergency”, was omitted by a later amendment.

    About National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)

    • It was set up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals.
    • It was established on the recommendations of the Tandon Committee to the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Taskforce (1985).
    • NCRB was entrusted with the responsibility for monitoring, coordinating and implementing the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project in the year 2009.

    What is Mob Lynching?

    • About:
      • It is a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, punishes and inflicts torture on a presumed offender, sometimes even resulting in murders.
    • Origin: 
      • The word lynching in fact originated in the United States in the mid-18th century. 
      • Historians believe that the term was first used by planter Charles Lynch to describe extra-judicial authority assumed by private individuals like him.
      • It came to be applied over time to extra-judicial killings by crowds, most commonly of African-Americans in the late 19th century.
    • Reasons:
      • Combined effect of various factors: A combined effect of political, socio-economic, and psychological factors have led to a situation of hyper-reactivity among large populations even in rural areas and small towns
    • These factors which instigated the people include deep discontent and anger in rural youth populations due to the worsened crisis of agriculture and bleak employment opportunities.
    • Poor Law and order: Most lynchings have occurred in remote areas, on highways, or in the countryside. 
      • The network of law and order is generally lax in these areas and even a set of enthusiastic police personnel might not reach the location on time to prevent violence.
    • Smartphones and cheap internet have become a common phenomenon only after 2010. 
    •  Lynchings are often fuelled by rumors spread on social media platforms.
    • Religion-based: The lynching of Muslims, especially on the pretext of “saving cattle” has apparently been on the rise in recent years. 
    • There have been dozens of such killings in the last few years.
    • Impacts: 
      • The spate of incidents of lynching over the past few years has led to a heightened sense of insecurity among the marginalised communities.

    Supreme Court’s Ruling:

    • In 2018, the Supreme Court described lynching as a “horrendous act of mobocracy”. The Court exhorted the Centre and State governments to frame laws specifically to deal with the crime of lynching and laid down certain guidelines to be incorporated in these laws including fast-track trials, compensation to victims, and disciplinary action against lax law-enforcers.

    Government initiatives to deal with this:

    • Creation of Nodal Officers: Central government has asked states to appoint a nodal officer in each district to prevent the incidents of mob violence and lynching.
      • As per advisory from the Home Ministry, the nodal officer should be a superintendent of police-level officers.
      • 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 or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news.
    • Creation of Two High Kevel Committees: Two high-level committees were constituted by the Central government to suggest ways and legal framework to effectively deal with incidents of mob violence and lynching.
    • Awareness 
      • The government through audio-visual media has also generated public awareness to curb the menace of mob lynching. 
        • The government has also sensitized the service providers to take steps to check the propagation of false news and rumours having the potential to incite mob violence and lynching.
    • States Law: 
      • The Jharkhand Assembly passed the Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, which aims at providing “effective protection” of constitutional rights and the prevention of mob violence in the state.
        • The Bill defines lynching as “any act or series of acts of violence or death or aiding, abetting or attempting an act of violence or death, 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 ground”.

    Way Forward 

    • Mob violence indeed defames the country and there must be stringent intervention by the police to bring an end to this.
    •  The political leadership also has a role to play in questioning the social consent that allows mob violence.
    • While framing the laws, the Centre could even provide for punitive action against political leaders found guilty of inciting mobs
      • Until a zero-tolerance attitude is adopted in dealing with mob lynching, this crime will continue to show a rising trend. 
    • Punitive action to be taken against police officers accused of dereliction of duty.
    • People have to understand that their act of providing ‘instant justice’ is nothing but in itself a serious crime. 
      • And a crime cannot be countered by another.

    Source: TH