Maharashtra issues guidelines against lynching and mob violence

Expressing concern over cases of mob lynching and violence, the State government has for the first time instituted a mechanism to deal with mobocracy and hate crimes. The State Home Department on Monday issued a fresh set of guidelines aimed at curtailing lynching and mob violence, especially in the hinterland. As a major step, the police has been empowered to shut down websites found propagating hate crimes and fake news.

The rules have been issued on the instructions of the Supreme Court, which is already hearing a petition against mob lynching. Last month, the court had, in a strongly-worded observation, said State governments have greater obligations to take a stand against mob lynchings, including those by cow vigilantes.

The court was hearing a petition against lynching filed by activist Tehseen Poonawalla against cow vigilantism, and contempt petitions filed by Tushar Gandhi against Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s directions about the same. Mr. Poonawala had moved court over the killing of Rakbar Khan, 28, in Rajasthan. As per the latest advisory, superintendents of police (SPs) have been appointed as the nodal officers in districts and deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) in the cities, to keep track of incidents related to lynching and mobocracy.


A senior official of the Home Department said, “The nodal officers have been tasked with creating a special force which will identify people repeatedly taking part in incidents of lynching. They will gather information, and coordinate with the Criminal Investigation Department to prevent these incidents. If the nodal officers are convinced of the intention of a person and his or her involvement in a hate crime, they can book them immediately.”

The SPs and DCPs have been empowered to take action under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and performing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony. The advisory also mentions other aspects of mobocracy, including spreading fake news, provocative content, rumours and hate messages through websites, which will invite action from the police, officials said.

Opposition apprehensive

The Opposition hit out at the government for issuing guidelines only when the SC took up the matter. “The rules will be on paper until the government has the will power to act on cases of hate crime and lynchings. The same party’s [Bharatiya Janata Party] ministers are seen felicitating those accused in lynching cases. What can you expect from such a government?” said leader of the Nationalist Congress Party Nawab Malik.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2021 2:49:40 AM |

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