Author :- Muskan Verma of Bharati Vidyapeeth New law college Pune
Lynching refers to ‘killing someone for an alleged offence without a legal trial’. Mob lynching cases in India with an alarming rate. In 2018, 84 incidents of mob lynching were recorded and a rise in number was recorded in 2019 with a total case of 107. The lynching cases are mostly based on either an outbreak of rumor or a religious prejudice. Half of them are related to the vexed issue of cow slaughtering and the remaining on the rumors of child abductors, organ harvesters etc.The Palghar lynching case was based on the fuelled up fake rumor of child kidnapping that escalated through social media platform. 16 lynching cases causing the death of more than 20 people were recorded in just two months prior the case of Palghar. In the present there are no such codified law for Mob lynching in India as such but however, sub section of (a) of section 233 of CrPC, 1973 holds the provision for a person to be charged under an offence jointly as they are prosecuted of the offence carried out in the process of the same affair which is relevant on two or more people. People are having a cynical approach in which both the institutions and politicians are falling to provide a sense of security. This paper provides with the overview, analysis and the jurisprudence related to the Palghar mob lynching case with suggesting few ways to tackle with such menace in the near future.
The incident: How did it happen?
It was a night of 16th of April, 2020 at around 10 pm, a dolorous incident took place. Two of the ascetics-Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushilgiri Maharaj (35) ,were travelling from Kandivali to Surat in a car with a driver named Nilesh Telgade (30), to attend the funeral of their guru named shri Mahant Ramgiri. They were passing through a remote village in Palghar district of Maharashtra named Gadchinchle which is situated approximately one hundred and forty kilometers to North of Mumbai. They shunned the main road of Mumbai-Gujarat expressway due to Covid 19 pandemic to avoid being stopped on the journey; they took a back road of Palghar.A forest department sentinel stopped them at one of the checkpoints of the village, while the saints were in conversation with the sentinel; the locals solicited them and lynched by usingseveralweapons such as logs, stones and axes allegedly suspecting them to be a child abductors and organ traffickers. Phone calls have been made to the Kasa police station which was around thirty five kilometers away from the spot of the incident. A team of four policemen reached the location and tried to soothe the mob but they did not give a damn and threatened the police as well. The policemen tried to rescue them by making them sit in police vehicles but the indignant mob of around four hundred people attacked the police vehicle injuring some of the policemen. The three of them died wistfully and the policemen failed to extricate them. So far 9 minors have been hindered while 101 people have been arrested who were related to the crime.
It is the mandate of the Government of India that protection of the citizens of the state is one of the primary duties of the state government. In a democratic country like India, where in the name of freedom of speech & expression, when people can not only criticize the government policy but can also make personal comments on individuals irrespective of his/ her constitutional positions, it becomes more menacing. Though there are laws to restrict this but accomplishment for the same in reality is zero. Even if it is tried, a large number of groups go into a huddle to defy it.
It is the mandate of the Government of India that protection of the citizens of the state is one of the primary duties of the state government. “MOB LYNCHING” is a kind of collective violence. The forms of collective violence are riots, gang violence, terrorism, war, Coups, rebellions, and revolutions. Mob Lynching means killing someone for the offence without any legal trial.
Prima facie information indicates that the trio were mistaken for thieves and attacked. The villagers were on edge due to the ongoing lockdown and unavailability of essential supplies. For the past few days, several rumors have been doing the rounds on social media about thieves and dacoits targeting villages on the highway. As a result, villagers have been patrolling the highway and stopping late night travellers on suspicion.
The Maharashtra state government has ordered inquiry for the incident, and the same has been transferred to CID (Crime Investigation Department). There have been certain steps taken from the side of the government to deliver justice to the victims who were killed ruthless without any legal trial for the offence they had never committed. National Human Rights Commission Of India has send a request to the Maharashtra Government to submit the report with the details stating the action taken against the accused and the relief delivered the victim’s family and the steps gripped to furnish justice to the victims.
In 2017 in Jharkhand a person was killed by the cow protection group where a person had
Sent a WhatsApp message to a group of vigilantes calling them to the scene is a recent
case of mob lynching that happened through the medium of social media. There is desperate need of legal limitation on spread of rumors as it is ending up costing lives of the citizens.
Sections 124A, 153A, 153B, 295A, 298 & 505 of Indian Penal Code, sections 8, 123 &
125 of Representation of The People Act, 1951, section 7 of Protection of Civil Rights Act,
1955, section 3 of Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988, sections 5 and 6 of
Cable Television Network Regulation Act, 1995, sections 4, 5B & 7, sections 95, 107, 144 &
155 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 have provisions to suppress the hate speeches that may
Genesis of violence either in the forms of riots or mob lynching or any type of collective violence. In spite of having multiple laws in the country still people these crimes are taking place. There is a prompt need from the side of the government to get hold of certain measures to suppress these crimes as Supreme Court of India has administered the Central and the State government to get hold of certain preventive and punitive measures to suppress these kinds of horrendous acts of monocracy.
Reality behind the lynching
Over the past few days, the local villagers of Gadchinchle formed an observant group to keep a check on the passer byes, after a rumor which fiercely got spread through whatsapp that, child abductors and organ harvesters steeron the roads and the areas of village at night. Due to this insignificant rumor, two cases of assault were registered in near areas of the village within the interval of few days. A team of few people comprises of a local activist Dr Vishwas Valvi had been attacked by the villagers, they had gone to Sarni village to provide essentials to the people amidst Covid 19 pandemic. Police corps was sent to rescue this team but they were also attacked by the villagers. Another case was reported in which a troop of police lead by an adscititious SP, were also assaulted by the locals when they were in route of venturing into the Union Territory of Dadar and Nagar Haveli. The brutal killing of the saints took place absolutely due to the outbreak of rumor which is even more dangerous than an outbreak of virus. Incidents like this made us lost faith in humanity. The people have become draconian that they can even kill other people in order to satisfy their instinct. The rumor was spread through social media i.e. whatsapp, this sort of things happen because the people easily gets influenced by the unauthenticated rumors without getting into the facts. A lack of education and awareness is to be seemed in the cases of lynching due to rumor. People take the legal procedure in their hands, this might happen due to the lack of trust on the legal system or else they are so in ardor to get instant justice and can’t wait for legal investigations. Sixteen lynching cases were recorded in two months on the suspicion of child kidnappers, organ harvesters and cow slaughters in different parts of the country due to the outbreak of rumor through social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram etc.
Communal angle given to the case
After the incident took place, several people including politicians, political workers, media influencers etc. started creating “communalism”. They claimed that the assailants were Muslims who lynched Hindu sadhus. They give it a communal color without emergence of the facts. They did not even wait for the investigation to complete. The investigation revealed that none of the accused was Muslim. Several people were grabbed who were involved in the lynching and the investigation disclosed that many of them belonged to the Bhartiya Janta Party. They made so many efforts to give it a communal angle to create disquiet among the people for their own benefits. Later the Maharashtra government unveiled the names of one hundred and one accused, on social media platform related to the lynching to stop the communalism as it had nothing to do with the Muslims in this incident. People do not understand the value of humanity. They judge humans on the basis of their caste, creed, religion, sex etc. but they’re unaware of the fact that the perpetrator has no religion, as no religion teaches a man to be a devil.
Uncanny similarity with Alwar mob lynching case 2017
There is an eerie similarity in the case of Alwar lynching that took place on April 1st, 2017; in which Pehlu Khan, a 55 year old man who was a dairy farmer residing in Nuh District of Haryana, was travelling to a village in Jaipur, Rajasthan to purchase dairy cattle. While returning to Haryana, he was stopped with his six fellow mates by a group of 200 cow vigilantes near Jaipur- Delhi national highway. Pehlu Khan showed some civic documents as a proof that the cow had been bought for raising milk during the month of Ramdan. The vigilantes did not pay any heed to him and attacked them with sticks, rods and bare hands that led to the death of Pehlu Khan. The other six people including his son Irshad was grievously injured but managed to survive. Later, the police arrested three people in this case and assured justice to the family of Pehlu Khan. In both the cases of Palghar and Alwar, lynching took place due to the fuelled up rumor. In both the cases the castigators did not listened to the victims and lynched them deliberately without any benevolence.
Conclusion and suggestions
The Palghar lynching case taught us several things regarding the nature and behavior of the people, manipulation of the politicians, role of media and the urgent reforms that are needed in our law.
- There is a sudden need of reform in our law. A National policy on social media should be implemented that checks the authenticity of the news with the facts and could repel it from being spread in the social media platform as soon as possible.
- People should be made aware with social media and its manipulation, so that they don’t get influenced by the outbreak of fake rumors on social media which are from unauthorized resources.
- There should be a separate law on lynching which should be applicable equally amongst all without biasness.
- Justice should prevail instantly without delay in such cases because there are several cases pending in the court related to lynching. This make people deficit in trusting the law which instigate them to take such steps and take law in their own hand to ensure frequent justice.
- The most important thing that we need to learn is the criminal has nothing to do with his/her caste, religion, ethnicity etc. as a perpetrator has no religion. We should be aware and enough educated to know what is happening around the world and could differentiate the right and the wrong.
- There is also a sudden reform needed to police that could probably guide them well to tackle the menace in near future.