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Rajasthan enforces strict law against mob lynching

Friday, August 9, 2019, 21:30 (IST)

A new law that allows severe punishment for mob lynching and violence is greatly welcomed by Church officials in Rajasthan in spite of opposition from pro-Hindu political groups.

On August 5, the state legislature passed the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill 2019. After Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan has now become the second state to pass such a bill. The two states enforced the new law after Congress, BJP's opposition party, came into power, which ended the rule of pro-Hindu party in these states.

The law defines lynching or any attempts of lynching as mob violence based on religion, ethnicity, caste, language, place of birth, sexual orientation, race, sex, dietary practices and political affiliation.

As per the new law, those guilty of lynching will face life imprisonment with a penalty of 500,000 rupees and those arrested in the attempt of lynching or mob violence will serve seven years jail term with a penalty of 100,000 rupees. Those creating unfriendly atmosphere toward groups or individuals will be imprisoned for five years with a penalty of 100,000 rupees, and those guilty of spreading offensive materials will be jailed for three years.

Bishop Oswald Lewis of Jaipur appreciated the move of the government. "There is no doubt that those taking the law into their own hands be punished," he said.

He stated that the new law alone will not be enough to end mob violence and stressed on having value-based education to avoid such crimes.

"All who spread the message of hate should be punished. Leaders of political parties should avoid making statements that promote hostility and hatred," he added.

Bishop Pius Thomas D'Souza of Ajmer said "We have witnessed several instances of mob lynching in the name of cow protection, caste discrimination, and honor killing." He believes the new law will function as a deterrent against mob violence that threatens to turn our country to anarchy.

In 24 of the 29 Indian states, law restricts slaughtering cattle, a holy and respected animal in Orthodox Hinduism. This restriction affects Dalits and Muslims who work in livestock and leather industries.

Last year, the Supreme Court asked the federal government to pass new laws against lynching, but BJP has not made any public move regarding the matter.

"We cannot claim to be a civilized nation and a democratic country when anyone can kill anyone on the street based on allegations," Bishop Lewis said. As mob lynching is not restricted to a single state, Bishop Lewis wants a national law to deal with the issue.