Ban self-styled vigilante groups in India
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Incidents of mob violence by vigilante groups have become alarmingly common in many parts of India. These groups have frequently committed serious crimes, including harassment, assault and murder.
In September 2015, a Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, died after being kicked and beaten with stones by vigilantes in Uttar Pradesh (1).
In June 2016, two Muslim men were force-fed a cowdung mixture for allegedly transporting beef in Haryana (2).
In July, seven members of a Dalit family were flogged for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat (3).
Most recently, Pehlu Khan, a Muslim dairy farmer, died after being brutally assaulted by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan (4).
Self-styled vigilantes have also taken up other causes to legitimise their activities (5).
An argument often given in justification of these groups is that they aid the police force in preventing illegal activities. However, these groups have committed crimes themselves and have disregarded the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order.
We already have a legal and judicial system in place. Creating and encouraging a parallel system that operates by its own rules rather than the system prescribed by our Constitution, is unnecessary and illegal. It also poses serious threats to the society because it is uncontrollable and a dangerous trend.
In spite of these groups repeatedly committing atrocities against minorities, nothing substantial has been done to stop them. The Central and several State Governments have remained silent. In addition, the authorities have extended no support to the victims, predominantly Muslims and Dalits, who have lost their lives and livelihoods.
The recent debates in the Rajya Sabha and the intervention of the Supreme Court are a step towards improvement (6). An earlier criticism by the Prime Minister proved to be inefficient as the vigilantes continued to operate as before (7).
Clearly, greater social awareness and resistance is needed to combat vigilante groups. Through this petition, we express our support for the decision of the Supreme Court and demand
1. An immediate ban on vigilante groups irrespective of any cause that has brought them into existence.
2. Unconditional and unequivocal condemnation of vigilantism from the National and State Governments.
3. Social support and compensation for victims.
Please sign and spread this petition to show that we, as citizens of India, are governed by one legal and judicial system alone, namely that prescribed by the Constitution of India, in which we believe.
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