The last few years have recorded innumerable cases of lynching and related intolerance towards the minorities and the Dalits in India. There has been a constant suggestion to bring into force some sort of strong legislation into place that can not only punish those who engage in the act of lynching but to also prohibit the culture of lynching for the times to come.
What one also does realise is that lynching as an act of intolerance and the essential proof of the existence of a culture that is insensitive to cultural and religious diversity in the nation, ought to be checked immediately if we are to allow India to retain its legacy of being a democracy.
It is in this context that the Law Commission of Uttar Pradesh has issued a statement on lynching and attracted our attention once again to the menace of lynching. It has waded into the politically sensitive topic of lynching and said that merely lip service is not enough and that we need a strong law to eradicate the social evil from the society. It also asks for a state law to combat the menace of lynching. Earlier in the week, the chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission had submitted a report on mob lynching and given it to the chief minster Yogi Adityanath. What is interesting to note is that the commission did not give the report in response to any demand by the state government but took its own initiative to towards this effort.
The report made by the commission is 128 pages long and has cited the innumerable cases of lynching that have taken place in India over the last couple of years and recommended that an immediate enactment of the law be made according to the recommendations of the Supreme Court made in 2018.
The commission has noted that the existing laws that are in place to combat the issue of lynching are not enough to deal with the problem and asserted that a strong and impactful law be created to tackle the problem. It has suggested a series of punishments such as seven years in jail as well as imprisonment for a year for any police personnel who is present at the sight but is unable to prevent the incident of lynching.
The introduction to the report says
“ One of the most stringing descriptions of the dangers of mob violence was Mark Twain’s responses to a racial lynching in Missouri in 1901. He saw it in the danger of America turning into ‘United States of Lyncherdom’. The secular Republic of India more than a century later, appears to be amidst the shadow of a similar fear.”
The commission suggested that the family of the victim should be compensated for loss of life or injury. There should also be facilities for the rehabilitation of the victims of the families.
The commission noted that despite the large number of cases of lunching taking place in the nation, only Manipur had a law in place against lynching and the Madhya Pradesh government is soon going to enact a law against it.
The commission’s report on the menace of lynching in India and the inability of the state to tackle the problem with urgency make the report a very crucial one given India’s current political climate. It will remain to be seen how India and specifically the state of Uttar Pradesh deals with the issue and how long it will take to enact a sound law to punish the act of lynching.