Jharkhand: Congress Promises Anti-Mob Lynching Law in Election Manifesto
Muslims in the state are welcoming the move but also questioning the party for allegedly not speaking strongly against mob lynching in recent years.
Mumtaz Alam | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI/ RANCHI, NOVEMBER 25— The Congress party has promised a stringent anti-mob lynching law besides several populist schemes in its manifesto for the Jharkhand Assembly elections. The Jharkhand state has witnessed a chain of incidents of mob lynching in the last few years –mostly in the name of cattle theft, cow slaughter or beef.
In the manifesto released in the presence of Congress leaders, including state in-charge RPN Singh and Congress Legislature Party leader in Jharkhand Assembly, Alamgir Alam in Ranchi on Sunday, the party has also promised Kisan Fasal Bima (farm insurance), a one-time farm loan waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh and pledge to free farmers from the clutches of money lenders.
In the last four years, several incidents of mob lynching at the hands of self-styled gangs of cow vigilantes have taken place in Jharkhand. On June 18 this year, Tabrez Ansari, 22, was brutally assaulted by a mob on suspicion of bike theft in Saraikala-Kharaswan district of the state. Rather than giving him proper medical care, he was sent to jail where his condition deteriorated and he died on June 22. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had raised the issue of Tabrez lynching in the Upper House of the Parliament on June 24.
Talking to India Tomorrow over phone from Ranchi, Alamgir Alam, Congress Legislature Party leader in the Jharkhand Assembly, said the party has promised law to check mob lynching as the state BJP government has not acted on the Supreme Court guidelines in this regard.
“There have been incidents of mob lynching in Jharkhand. Earlier, groups of illiterate people would kill someone thinking him/her as a witch who is bringing harm to someone’s family. This has been an old issue,” Alam said.
He added: “After BJP came to power in the state, other sorts of mob lynching started to take place. For example, if there is a cattle trader taking his cattle from one place to another, a mob comes and kills him. Some people have been killed on suspicion of carrying beef. This trend cannot be stopped without formulating a stringent law. We have promised that we would take most stringent action against such incidents and such cases will be handled through fast-track courts,” said the Congress leader.
In the last one year, Congress governments of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have enacted law to curb the mob lynching.
Congress’ Jharkhand In-Charge RPN Singh (2nd from left), Congress Legislative Party Leader in Assembly Alamgir Alam (3rd from left) and other leaders releasing the party manifesto in Ranchi on November 24, 2019.
He said: “We got inspiration for committing such law from the Supreme Court guidelines to check the menace of mob lynching. The court had ordered appointment of a nodal officer in each district to check such crimes. But the state BJP government has not acted upon the order. Moreover, two state governments of our party in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have framed such laws.”
In August this year, the Rajasthan legislative assembly passed a Bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine from ₹1 lakh to ₹5 lakh to those convicted in cases of mob lynching leading to victim’s death.
Earlier in July, Congress party’s Madhya Pradesh government passed the anti-cow slaughter amendment Act 2019 that will ensure a jail term of six months to three years and a fine of Rs 25,000-50,000 for those who are convicted for committing violence in the name of the cow.
Jharkhand Congress leader said: “I hope this issue (promise for anti-mob lynching law) will touch the heart of the people in the minority community as they were very frightened when law enforcing agencies were not taking any action and cases would drag in courts for years while widows running from pillar to post. We have promised to take action against the culprits and give job to one member of the victim family.”
Welcome Move, But Party Should Walk The Talk, Say Citizens
Afzal Anis, General Secretary, United Milli Forum, told India Tomorrow: “It is a welcome step if they have taken it in the manifesto. We support it.”
Ziaul Islam, a social activist in Ranchi, said: “If whatever is written in manifestos gets implemented it will be good for all. Populist announcements are made by all parties. Yet, if Congress has shown courage to bring a law to check mob lynching, they should be applauded. This announcement is sending good message in the community. It is also good that the party has given tickets to some of the people who have been actively raising the issue in the state.”
However, they also questioned the alleged silence of the Congress party and other opposition parties on the issue in the last few years.
Anis, who is also Jharkhand Coordinator of former IAS Harsh Mandar’s Aman Biradari group working for welfare of lynching victims, said: “They have not raised the issue in the state as strongly as they should have. Around 22 people have been killed in incidents of mob lynching in the state in the last few years. But the Congress people neither came out on the street against it nor did they raise it in the Assembly. If now they are bringing it in the manifesto, we are happy.”
Siraj Dutta, an activist and researcher, averred: “Even though Congress has mentioned it in the manifesto, opposition parties are completely silent on the issue of mob lynching in Jharkhand. Whatever they are writing in manifesto, they should display it on the ground. Opposition has not reacted strongly on the incidents of mob lynching in the state in the last few years.”
Jharkhand is going to polls in five phases – from November 30 to December 20 - to elect a new 81-member Assembly. The votes will be counted on December 23.
The Congress party is fighting the election against the ruling BJP in alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Rashtriya Janata Dal.