Bring a bill to make "Mob Lynchings" and other "Mob Crimes" punishable by law

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India is a country where people of different beliefs, mindsets, religion, language and a multitude of many other parameters come together. With diversity, clashes are bound to happen. But when these clashes become a tool for the notorious elements of society to take another person's life or target a community or a section of people with beliefs different than theirs, the diverse nation loses all its charm.

Recently this is exactly what has been happening. First, the Government forced the beliefs of the majority section on others in forms of meat ban and other subsequent bans and laws related to Cows. Which is not the main issue here, it's part of a populist government's agenda and it will have to follow through on it or it will lose its voter's confidence.

The one major side effect of this agenda is what we are witnessing today. It started with the killings of rationalists like M.M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare. Now it has grown to the level that a 16-year-old kid was killed during a heated argument in a train for a seat. What's baffling about this specific incident is that if it was an everyday scuffle in a train that kid would have survived with a few broken bones. But because the kid belonged to a section which is known to be eaters of beef (buffalo, cow meat) the altercation for seat became the attack by the community who reveres cows, on the community that considers beef to be a normal part of the meal like the rest of the world

Literally, a rumour on WhatsApp can lead to a mob coming to your house and lynching you in the presence of your family, neighbours even police officers(Refer to Jharkhand lynching of 7 people).

The situation has become so worse that soon it will hard to differentiate between gang violence and mob violence, which is why our nation needs a strong and versatile law to tackle mob crimes.

The law should be drafted keeping two stakeholders in mind 1) the Citizens of India 2)  the law enforcement agencies

Following are a few points that have been taken from a similar petition in Ghana to 

1) Obligate the citizens to intervene or refrain from participating in Mob crime.

Be Citizens, Not Spectators

“…It shall be the duty of every citizen:

(d) …To refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons.

(g)  To contribute to the well-being of the community where that citizen lives.

(i)   To co-operate with lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.”

(Duty to Rescue) , shall require citizens to carry out at least one of the following duties, among others, to help rescue a citizen whose life is in danger:

·        Call law enforcement agencies, emergency services or other citizens, as the case may be, to come and rescue the victim.

·        Document (record) and share evidence of the incident with lawful agencies and assist in any further investigations.

·        Intervene directly to rescue the victim, if you can do so without endangering your own life.

I am just a layman, not a lawyer. The legal brains can work out the fine provisions, but here are a few provisions that we can borrow from other jurisdictions, which should go a long way to deal with lynching and mob crimes:

1.      Anyone who fails to render assistance to a person in danger will be found liable and upon conviction could face a term of imprisonment, a fine, or both. (As it is in France, Wikipedia)

2.      It is forbidden to knowingly abandon people who are in life- or health-threatening situations when said people can't help themselves. (As it is in Russia, Wikipedia)

3.      Every citizen is obligated to provide assistance in case of an accident or general danger. (As it is in Germany, Wikipedia)

Comments:

The first two provisions will ensure that anybody standing within say 20 meters of a person being attacked without intervening can be charged under the law. This will achieve 2 things:

·        If you can’t help, walk away so the actual perpetrators can easily be identified. This takes away the ‘mob anonymity mentality’, as fewer people would be willing to congregate around the perpetrators to give them that sense of anonymity.

·        Knowing that your proximity to the incident puts a legal obligation on you will encourage you to make an effort to fulfill one of the duties listed above, at the very least to call for help or assist in identifying the perpetrators. Helping to identify perpetrators and reporting to the Police, could absolve you of further liability, even if you could not directly help.

·        If prosecutors cannot obtain enough evidence to charge suspects with murder, they can charge everybody who was present but failed to rescue the victim with failure to perform Duty To Rescue obligations and request the court to impose the maximum sentence, say 5 years.

 

2) Enabling the law enforcement agencies to take action and curb the mob crimes

Treat mob crimes on the same parameters as organised crime

* Set Immediate Response Force in every district with riot gear and training to handle mobs

* Set special hotline to reach the Taskforce. It is important to keep a single unit in a district to make sure there is no failure in responding to distress calls due to jurisdiction issues.

* Immediate detainment of perpetrators with non-bailable detention for 48 hours

 

Of course, the proposed points are not perfect, there will have to be many more additions, improvements. But it's necessary for us to persude the government to introduce laws which have become the need of the hour. 

 



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