Almost five years after directions from the Supreme Court to State governments to frame guidelines to prevent cases of honour killings, mob lynching and mob violence in the State, the Maharashtra government issued directions to the Director General of Police (DGP) to set up helplines in every district to report such cases of hate crime.
The Supreme Court in March 2018 and then in October 2018 had told the State government to identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of honour killings at the assembly of khap panchayats were reported in the last five years. There have been instances of khap panchayats ordering punishments on couples for inter-religious or inter-caste relationships. Maharashtra Home Minister Devendra Fadnavis issued a government resolution (GR) on October 20 that said, “Khap panchayats and similar organisations should be reported to district and police authorities, and law-enforcing agencies must get in touch with the members of these outfits and tell them such meetings are not allowed as per law. If the meeting of a khap panchayat or any such outfit cannot be banned as per law and if there is a possibility that the couple’s lives are at risk, prohibitory orders under Section 144 (power to issue order in urgent cases of nuisance of apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be issued.”
The Deputy Chief Minister further said if any call for violence is made by an outfit or a spokesperson of an organisation, the police officials should call those guilty for questioning within 24 hours and if they fail to appear, then they should be booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code. “To stop mob violence and lynching, police have been asked to train rapid action force teams in each district. Water cannons and tear gas should be used to control mobs. Attackers at the site should be immediately arrested,” the GR added.