States asked to combat lynching

NEW DELHI, JUL 24 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 7/24/2018 11:51:26 PM IST
Against the backdrop of a recent spate of mob attacks/lynching in the country, the Centre has asked all states to appoint a superintendent of police-level officer in each district, set up a special task force for gathering intelligence and closely monitor social media contents, so that no one is attacked on the suspicion of being child-lifters or cattle-smugglers.
It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court had recently pointed out that states are under obligation to prevent lynchings and mob violence and such incidents cannot happen by the remotest chance. The Court reserved its verdict on petitions against lynchings but Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said an elaborate judgment is required to be passed to prevent incidents.
In 2018, the first incident was reported from Tamil Nadu in the first week of May followed by a few from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In June, two persons, including a Mumbai based sound engineer, were beaten to death in Assam and in July, five tribals were lynched in Rainpada village of Maharashtra’s Dhule district. The latest incident took place in Rajasthan’s Alwar where one Rakbar Khan, succumbed to death after a mob allegedly beat him up on suspicion that he was a cow smuggler. The post-mortem report in the lynching of Rakbar Khan revealed on July 24 that the cause of death was shock as a result of the ante-mortem injuries sustained.
Under fire from the opposition and with eyes on 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Rajasthan Assembly polls by end of this year, the BJP government at the Centre has come out with strict norms to tackle mobocracy.
Citing Supreme Court directives, the Home Ministry said wherever it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to comply with the directions to prevent, investigate and facilitate expeditious trial of any such crime of mob violence and lynching, it should be considered as an act of deliberate negligence and misconduct, and strong action must be taken against the official concerned.
Departmental action shall be taken to its logical conclusion preferably within six months by the authority of the first instance, it had said in the directive.
The advisory has been sent to the states and Union territories following a Supreme Court directive issued in this regard on July 17.
“All state governments, UT administrations and their law enforcement agencies are requested to implement the directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit...,” the advisory sent to chief secretaries and DGPs of the states and UTs said. This is the second advisory on the issue, within a month.
The move came in the wake of constitution of a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and a committee, headed by the Union home secretary, to suggest legal framework to check incidents of lynching.
Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh Tuesday said in Parliament that the government will enact a law, if required, to curb incidents of lynching. Supreme Court directive said, “The state governments shall designate, a senior police officer, not below the rank of Superintendent of Police, as Nodal Officer in each district. Such nodal officer shall be assisted by one of the DSP rank officers in the district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.”
They shall constitute a special task force so as to procure intelligence reports about the people who are likely to commit such crimes or who are involved in spreading hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news, it said.
The state governments shall forthwith identify districts, sub-divisions and/or villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past. The process of identification should be done within a period of three weeks from July 17.
The secretary, home department, of the states concerned shall issue directives/ advisories to the nodal officers of the concerned districts for ensuring that the officer-in-charge of the police stations of the identified areas are extra cautious if any instance of mob violence within their jurisdiction comes to their notice.
The nodal officer, so designated, shall hold regular meetings (at least once a month) with the local intelligence units in the district along with all SHOs of the district to identify the existence of the tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching in the district and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material through different social media platforms or any other means for inciting such tendencies, the apex court directive stated.
The nodal officer shall also make efforts to eradicate hostile environment against any community or caste which is targeted in such incidents.
DGPs shall issue a circular to the Superintendents of Police with regard to police patrolling in the sensitive areas keeping in view the incidents of the past and the intelligence obtained by the office of the DGP. 
All law enforcement and intelligence agencies of the state governments shall monitor the social media platform and shall take action under the legal provision contained in Information Technology Act and other relevant law to curb and stop dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind.
The police should register FIR against persons who disseminate irresponsible and explosive messages and videos having content which is likely to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind. 

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