|A 16-year old Junaid, died in his brother’s lap on a railway platform. He was beaten and stabbed to death by a mob, and was called a ”beef-eater”and an “anti-national” by the assailants.
Every time I read about a new case of mob lynching, my head hangs in shame. I am a proud Indian and have always believed that our country’s strength lies in its diversity and acceptance of different cultures, religions and languages.
But the recent newspaper headlines are making me feel that the social fabric of our country, the very core of our national identity is under threat. 2017 is on its way to becoming the worst-ever year for violence in the name of cow protection. 20 attacks were reported in the first six months 2017 alone.
I am an actress in the Indian Film Industry. But as a conscientious citizen of India, cannot allow these lynchings to take place in my name. I, along with thousands of young Indians, stood up against this public menace in protests that were recently held across 20 cities of the world.
We, together, said #NotInMyName, to such violence. Next day, PM Modi issued a statement condemning the killings in the name of gau raksha (cow protection). But even after that the lynching and vigilante violence has continued.
Vigilante violence often takes the form of mob lynching, harassment, assault and even gang rape!
African nationals living in India have often been attacked over various kinds of rumors. A student named Nido Taniam from Arunachal Pradesh was similarly beaten to death in my own city, Delhi, in 2014.
Muslims and Dalits who have traditionally been involved in dairy farming, cattle trade, or scavenging activities have become targets of cow vigilantes.
It is important to remember that mob lynching is not an issue that affects any one community. It can happen to anyone. Right now, mobs in Bengal are on a rampage over a Facebook post written by an 11th class student!
Recently an auto rickshaw driver named Ravindra was brutally lynched to death when he stopped a group of people from urinating in public. Ravindra was a fan of Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign.
People living with mental health conditions and transgender persons often become the target of such attacks. A 42-year old woman Otera Bibi, who was reportedly suffering from mental illness, was beaten to death by a mob that suspected her of being a child lifter.
A policeman was recently lynched in J&K. On the other hand, police claims that they could not save Junaid because of the crowd, pointing to both police complicity as well as gradual disappearance of the rule of law. No civilised society can be ruled by mobs.
Lynching does not find mention in the Indian Penal Code. No particular law has been passed to deal with lynching. I believe in a violence-free India. I, therefore, appeal to the lawmakers of our Parliament to enact a strict legislation against mob lynching.
Sign my petition and demand:
1) The enactment of a Manav Suraksha Kanoon (MASUKA) in the upcoming session of the Parliament, which will:
- Make lynching a non-bailable offence;
- Fix institutional accountability – suspend local police officials;
- Prescribe strict punishment, up to life imprisonment, for those found to be involved;
- Provide for an independent judicial enquiry
- Provide for relief and rehabilitation (financial, psychological) of survivors and families;
- Have provisions to curb the spread of rumors targeting an individual or community, that have an imminence of violence;
- provide for speedy, time-bound trials;
2) The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) should start collecting data under the category of ‘Mob Lynching’, as no data records exist as of now
3) A dedicated national helpline to report vigilante violence
4) Ban on cow vigilante groups, so that violence is nipped in the bud
5) Police reforms to ensure independence of police, awareness and sensitisation among law enforcers regarding rights of individuals and ills of mob justice/vigilantism.
It’s time for PM Modi to walk his talk. The youth of this nation elected the first PM born after independence. We want him to preserve our social independence.