It’s time for Prevention of Mob Violence Act in India

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Economic development is necessary but not at the cost of peace and social justice. I’ve always supported the vision and the economic agenda of PM Modi but his party falls short when it comes to speaking against mobs who incite violence in the name of cows, country, reservation, and pride. The lynching of a Muslim man for carrying beef, violence in Haryana after Ram Raheem’s sentence, violence by Karni Sena against movie Padmavat and recent violence during Maratha reservation demand in Maharashtra is unacceptable to the larger public. Yet statement by certain members of the BJP is affecting the parties image and in my opinion PM should not refrain from condemning BJP members who make stupid statements.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law

Abraham Lincoln

When we talk about a new India that is developed it doesn’t mean only economic development. We need both moral and economic development to call ourselves a great country. A country where there is no place for religious politics, casteism, sexism, reservation based on caste or any kind of mob violence. We must remember we are a republic, not a democracy alone. In a democracy, the majority rules according to their will, in a republic the majority rules according to a set of laws which are morally right and socially justified. It’s time we need a strong anti-mob-violence act in India to protect people and public/private property from unruly mobs.

It’s difficult to prevent a sudden uprising of violence in a place all the time like the lynching of people at various places on in India. Comparatively, a state should be able to prevent violence of the kind which happened after the sentencing of Gurmeet Ram Rahim in charges of rape or the violence and violence by Karni Sena and different Rajput groups on Padmavat movie issue. I believe with a strong set of laws and severe punishments will prevent mobs from damaging private or public property or any loss of life. The key is to

1. Declare a perceived threat of violence by any group to be tried under Prevention of Mob Violence Act (PoMoV) proactively.

In cases like Padmavat(i) or Gurmeet Ram Rahim state, center or courts should declare any violence that takes place in the aftermath of events will be tried under PoMoV act. This will prevent common people who damage public property in exchange for money or some other form of minor consideration like alcohol.

2. Include CCTV/Media footage as prime evidence and push provision for speedy trials.

In most of the mob violence cases, the footages recorded by TV channels and CCTVs tell a lot of stories. PoMoV should include these evidence as crucial and sufficient evidence in case of mob violence.

3. Attach severe punishments and limited scope for appeals in case of on record violence or strong eyewitness accounts.

If a person is seen damaging private or public property in any form of video evidence or credible eyewitness accounts exists then the person should be immediately awarded severe punishments. While punishment is one part the person should have limited scope for appeal in higher courts or the case would linger on for years.

4. Let the lower courts declare any threat as POMOV by responding to PILs or proactively.

While bigger statewide issues like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Padmavat or Maratha reservation attract much media attention and can easily be put under mob violence act by state or HC, it’s also important to use these laws effectively in case local level. Therefore authority should be awarded to district courts to declare local level threats as mob violence proactively or by responding to a civil plea.

5.Special courts for trial of PoMoV accused.

Special courts should be established to conduct mob violence acts with mandated trail length when the court feels sufficient evidence exists. In case sufficient evidence is not available courts can always provide some extra time to investigative agencies.

6. Indict political or mob leaders if they incite mob violence.

Mob violence often has powerful or political backings. It’s equally important to find people who incite or in a way to lead these events in the background and severely punish them as an example for others who follow these leaders blindly.

7. Strong framework to prevent political misuse of PoMoV

No matter which government is in power the politicians will most probably try to game the act to prevent political uprisings against governments or shield violence by supporting groups. In no way, absolute power should be given to the political section to declare any act as mob violence or stop honest bureaucrats from enforcing the law. The special courts can act as a secondary check to the political class to prevent the misuse.

It’s time we put India first.

About me - My name is Jnanadarshan (Pronounced Gyana-Darshan) Nayak and I’m working at TATA Consultancy Services as a Business Analyst. I have Majored in MBA-Marketing from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar in 2017.

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Author — Jnanadarshan Nayak

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