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Assam may bring in law against mob lynching

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Guwahati: The Assam government on Monday said that it will discuss and consider a proposal to introduce a bill against mob lynching, in line with states like Manipur, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

Replying to the issue of bringing in legislation to stop incidents of mob lynching, Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika said in the Assembly that the state government has not thought about it so far.

“Though we have not enacted any law against mob lynching, we must take steps to prevent it. Many such gruesome incidents have shaken us. We will discuss and consider the acts implemented by other states,” he said.

Hazarika said that as of now, the Assam government has not looked at the anti-mob lynching laws of states like Manipur, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

“We do not have any information about other states’ laws. However, the Supreme Court, in the judgement in Tehseen Poonawalla case, had issued a set of guidelines to stop mob lynching incidents. It had also said that there was scope of enacting anti-mob lynching laws,” he said.

The minister mentioned several cases of mob lynching that took place in Assam in last few years that are being tried in fast-track courts under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

On November 29, a 28-year-old All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader was lynched by a group of people in Jorhat after a heated argument over an accident in front of scores of onlookers, who did nothing to stop it but were busy filming the incident on mobile phones.

Raising the issue in the House on the first day of the Winter Session, BJP MLA Mrinal Saikia said that instances of witch-hunting and mob lynching are continuing unabated in different places of Assam despite an act against witch-hunting already in force in the state.

Demanding a detailed discussion, Saikia urged the government to bring in a strong act against all forms of mob lynching in the state.

The Assam government had notified the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015 on October 1, 2018, making every offence related to witch-hunting as cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable, making provisions for imprisonment up to seven years along with a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh for identifying and calling a person “witch”.

This act will come with Section 302 of the IPC if someone is killed after being branded as a witch.

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