Jharkhand passes anti-lynching bill, culprits may be jailed for life

The BJP opposed the bill and accused the state government of bringing the legislation "in a hurry to appease the minorities".

Ranchi: The Jharkhand Assembly Tuesday passed a bill to prevent mob violence and lynching in the state notorious for vigilante justice, with the proposed law providing for punishment ranging from three years in jail to life imprisonment.

The Prevention of Mob Violence and Mob Lynching Bill, 2021, was passed by a voice vote despite opposition by the BJP.

Jharkhand became the third state in the country after West Bengal and Rajasthan to pass such a legislation.

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The Bill envisages imprisonment for those pronounced guilty of mob violence and lynching for periods ranging from three years to life term, besides fine and attachment of property. Those held responsible for sharing information in an irresponsible manner will also be punished.

It provides for fine and imprisonment of up to three years for those creating a “hostile environment”, the definition of which includes threatening or coercing the victims, their family members and witnesses or any person providing assistance to them. It also envisages financial compensation to the victim’s family and free medical treatment of victims of mob violence and mob lynching.

The Bill will be now be sent to the governor for his assent.

Tabling the Bill in the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Alamgir Alam said its main objective is to provide “effective security” to people, protect their constitutional rights and prevent mob violence.

During the debate on the Bill, the main opposition BJP introduced several amendments which were rejected by voice vote.

BJP leader C P Singh accused the state government of bringing the legislation “in a hurry to appease the minorities”.

The state has seen many incidents of mob violence, but the lynching of 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari in 2019 triggered a nation-wide outrage after videos showed him tied to an electric pole as a crazed crowed beat him up in Seraikela Kharsawan district on suspicion of theft on June 17. He kept begging for his life in vain. Ansari died five days later in a Jamshedpur hospital.

There have also been innumerable incidents of mob lynching of those suspected of practising witchcraft in the tribal state.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren had denounced incidents of mob violence and promised to bring a legislation against it ahead of the 2019 state Assembly election.

Earlier this year, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led government had decided to set up district-level committees to deal with cases of mob violence and lyching after being rebuked by the high court.

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