Court urges new law to stop mob attacks


TECHNOLOGY FAIL: Indian security personnel stand near a poster featuring Abhijeet Nath and
Nilotpal Das, who were lynched in Panjuri Kachari village, in the northeastern state of Assam. They
were killed after rumours spread on Facebook and WhatsApp accused them of being child abductors
TECHNOLOGY FAIL: Indian security personnel stand near a poster featuring Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das, who were lynched in Panjuri Kachari village, in the northeastern state of Assam. They were killed after rumours spread on Facebook and WhatsApp accused them of being child abductors

SOCIAL MEDIA RUMOURS BEHIND ‘HORRENDOUS ACT’ OF LYNCHING INDIA’S supreme court on Tuesday (17) asked the government to enact a new law and stem what it called “horrendous acts” of lynching, after some 22 peo­ple were killed by mobs this year. Since February the country has seen a spate of mob lynchings, often in isolated areas where outsiders have been accused of child kidnapping and other crimes following rumours spread via social me­dia forums such as WhatsApp. The latest incidents saw a Google en­gineer killed in a mob attack last week in Karnataka state and five people were lynched in neighbouring Maharashtra on July 1. Separately, fatal attacks have also been carried out on Muslims by so-called “cow protection” groups who roam high­ways inspecting livestock trucks. The supreme court on Tuesday con­demned the lynchings and asked states to take “preventive, punitive and reme­dial” measures to curb the trend. “Horrendous acts of mobocracy can­not be allowed to become a new norm. It has to be curbed with an iron hand,” ob­served a bench headed by India’s chief justice Dipak Misra. The parliament must make a law to deal with lynchings and punish offend­ers, it said. “No citizen can take law into his hands or become a law onto himself,” the court ruled. Lynchings based on misjudgement or malicious information are not a new phenomenon in India. But the spread of smartphones and internet access in the country’s poorest and most isolated are­as has exacerbated the problem. Indian authorities have recently launched awareness campaigns and imposed internet blackouts, but the measures have had limited success so far. Police in the country have rounded up suspects and formed patrols, driving from village to village to quash the ru­mours. In some areas, travelling musi­cians have sung about the scourge of fake news. Authorities in…

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