New Delhi: The Group of Ministers (GoM) formed to tackle mob lynchings has not met in its new avatar yet, but a senior official told The Hindu that a new law to prevent such crimes is unlikely. The GoM was constituted in the Narendra Modi government’s first term, but it was reported earlier that since it is position-specific, home minister Amit Shah would head it in the NDA’s second term.
According to The Hindu, the official said “existing laws were enough to combat crimes like lynching”, but what is lacking is their enforcement. “There are enough laws to deal with lynchings; it is a matter of enforcement. The police need to be trained to ensure conviction in these cases,” the official told the newspaper.
The other members of GoM are external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, transport minister Nitin Gadkari, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and social justice and empowerment minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Earlier reports said that the GoM had met twice during the Modi government’s first term, constituting a high-level committee on the issue of mob lynching. The committee was headed by then home secretary Rajiv Gauba and submitted its report in Septemeber 2018. Reports suggested that the committee had suggested measures such as the strengthening laws by inserting clauses in the IPC and the CrPC through parliamentary approval.
The GoM was formed after the Supreme Court issued a series of preventive, remedial and punitive measures to tackle mob lynchings in July 2018. The apex court suggested that the legislature consider enacting a new penal provision to deal with cases of mob violence.
The Rajasthan government earlier this month passed two laws to tackle mob lynchings and “honour killings”, with stringent provisions such as life imprisonment for those convicted. It will be examined by the Centre before it becomes a law, as it seeks to amend the IPC.
According to The Hindu, the government has met with social media platforms to initiate action against persons spreading rumours that lead to lynching. “We ensured that they appoint a representative here so that police complaints are acted on in real time as their headquarters and servers are located in foreign countries,” the official told the newspaper.
This is likely a reference to rumours and false information of “child lifting gangs” that did the rounds on social media in May-June 2018, and more recently too. Fears fuelled by these rumours led to the lynching of more than 30 people across the country. According to one report, the rumours resulted in 69 mob attacks over the past 18 months and resulted in the deaths of 33 people.
However, as the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission noted in its report, there have also been several instances of vigilante mobs attacking and killing people – mostly Muslims – accusing them of smuggling cows. More recently, several instances of Muslim men were attacked and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.