Structuralism of Mob-Lynching

Ever since last few years, India has witnessed an abnormal increase in crimes associated to mob violence committed in the name of caste or religion. Lynching is a form of brutality in which a mob, with the idea of governing justice devoid of trial, enforces an alleged offender, often after causing corporal injury and suffering. It is prompted by various associations or union of fierce individuals to ensemble the society. This form of killing is disrespectful towards the illustrious principles of the Constitution and Rule of law as well. Lynching by boisterous mobs and ferocious form of violence cropping up out of instigation cannot be permitted to be in force. The term mob is an English word which means uncontrolled or unrepressed crowd. Lynching on the other hand is an Americo-latin word which means giving death sentence without any legal proceeding and authority.

Mob lynching is an informal punishment applied by crowd or persons that do not have the authorities to do so. It is an excessive form of informal mob social control such as charivari, skimmington, riding the rail, and tarring and feathering, and often carried out with the display and intention of a public spectacle for maximum terrorization. It is to be considered as an act of terrorism and punishable in the eyes of law. Cases of lynchings and related mob violence can be found in every society.

Mostly lynching occurs when a group believes that a person has committed a crime even if it has not been convicted. Lynching is a mob justice in which ordinary people come together to punish someone they think violates, a legal method, moral and social media. Examples of lynching include public hangings or other form of extreme punishment.  At first it took place in USA in 18th century and then spread easily to other countries such as India, South Africa, Mexico, Afghanistan, Europe and Israel. Violence in the name of religion and caste in India has strong roots. In 2002 five dalits of Haryana were lynched on charges of cow slaughter. In 2017 due to cow slaughtering, mob lynching again took place. On 17 April 2020 two sadhus and their driver were lynched by a mob in Maharashtra’s Palghar, after allegedly suspecting them to be child-kidnappers and organ harvesters.

In the afternoon of 20th September, 1969, a Muslim man, subsequent to destruction of his land, emphasized his desire to take revenge. He was attacked and seized by a mob which forced him into screeching “Jai Jagannath” but could not get through it. Subsequent to this, a person from the crowd suggested that he must be killed. As a result, a pyre was created in the midst of the road, petrol was sprayed on the prepared pyre and the Muslim man, and he was set on fir alive with no sense of dissent from any person for the mob. The aforementioned instance in Gujarat was the very first communal cruelty composing of looting, massacre and arson. The cruelty led to deaths of over 1,100 people and rooted the damage of land with a value of substantial amount of money.

A man in Jharkhand in 2019 was assaulted by a group as he was in question of having stolen a bicycle. He was beaten cruelly and the basis of their allegation was that he did not live in Jharkhand and was new in the city. While the mob was brutally beating him, an individual amongst them was making a video and asked the victim to say ‘jai hanuman’& ‘jai shri ram’.

The motive behind committing such a crime –

  • due to differences happening in customs, race and religion;
  • to establish if the crime that has been committed is a bias crime or a hate crime.”

Along with this, the silence of the political class, the lack of punishment for the guilty persons in lynching, loosening of law and order, false rumours etc. are also the primary reasons for lynching. Mob lynching is completely illegal and against the constitution. Mostly the people who are innocent are becoming the victim of mob lynching and many innocent individuals die every year. The idea behind lynching is to break the law and disturb social harmony. According to a report by The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), India has the most no. of hate crimes which are based on religion and caste, subsequent to gender discriminations which are amplifying at a disturbing rate. As per the Indian law there is no such definition for these crimes but there are other laws and provisions that have been enacted in the Indian Statutes which cover these offences for the prevention of the different religious sentiments and beliefs of the citizens of the country. The laws are present with different titles under Indian penal code, 1860, the Code of Criminal procedure Code, 1973.  

Politicians, interest groups, journalists and various criminologists as well claim that India is facing an over-the-board “epidemic” of hate crime. “The application of the term epidemic” is f or embellishing a stridently increasing rate of hate crime. Contentions that a hate crime epidemic exists are approximately always convoyed by suggestions for latest “hate crime laws” that augments maximum and minimum sentence or reprimand for offenders. To establish whether an offence is a bias crime or hate crime, the spur following the act has to be taken into contemplation. Hate crime is at all times aggravated , by hatred or bias of an individual or any social group against another social group or an individual due to differences taking place from race, customs, religion, practices , ethnicity and the like.

India has been facing the illegal and immoral practice of mob- lynching which has been explained by the apex court in a recent matter as “heinous acts of mobocracy”. The concept of lynching is not new or introductory in India but in recent years an increase in the lynching incidents is shocking and surprising for very person who believes and follows the principles of democracy”. “Lynching is a communal act,” says Professor Bhaskar Chakravorty, the dean for global business at the Flecyhcer School of Tufts University. He elaborated that this phenomenon is not new, it occurs more usually when people have faith in some kind of civil issues and lesser people have the arguments and contention to raise an objection”. The fervor of the lynch groups was largely supported by social media, which effectively delivered fake news and rumors to congeal a “common cause”. The biggest difference in lynching concept in the past and as of now is the position of social media of which whatsapp is most noticeable.

Our country India is on the way of developing into a influential and potent country at a worldwide level but seemed to be weighed down with public taking the rules and laws in their possession there is no prohibition on them from commiting it. The unethical practice of lynching around the world has stopped but that is not case for India, a nation so diverse and wide, the crime still subsists and there seems to be no ending to it. The right to life, given under Article 2 of Human Rights Act which states to protect the human life, which is so uncontrollably and violently exterminated at no cost in India, which also covers the scope of the equality and human rights commission.

In accordance to our legal system, there is no specific rule or provision for the matters of mob-lynching. The term “lynching” is not defined anywhere. The civil desciption of lynching is provided by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), in the United States, which states that –

  1. there should be a proof that an individual person was killed;
  2. the individual should have met death illegitimately
  3. a grouping of 3 or more people should have taken part in the killings;&
  4. the killing is performed in public.

The nature of such a crime is intended to formulate it as an impact of misbehavior, “to edify not just the person who is being lynched but also create a sense of fear in the eyes of the entire community so that they can exercise their common rights.”

Due to sudden increase in the heinous matters of lynching, the demand for a new and strict law to stop lynching has taken place. However, the IPC of 1860 consists of adequate provisions like section 302, section 304 and section 307to take actions against crime committed as per section 34 of the IPC, 1860.

It is significant to mention here that, for United States, it has taken over 100 years right from the time of civil war in 1861 to civil rights moment in 1954 for the immoral practice of lynching to be prohibited and completely eliminated from the society. From 1882 to 1968, there were more than 2000 bills initiated in the US congress, and the then seven presidents appealed the congress to put forward a fundamental law. Even though, no bill was accepted and supported by the then Senate, due to a lot of contention observed by the conformist south. Later, in 2005, the senate officially expressed regret for not making any provisions against the immora practice of lynching, when it was required the most.


  1. “where it is seen that a police official of the district management has failed to follow the direction in way of protect or inspect or facilitate expeditious trial of any kind of mob brutality and lynching, the same will be reflected upon as an action taken with intentional negligence for which accurate action should be taken against him/her and not restricted to departmental act according to the service provisions.
  2. The court in the case of Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu, the respective states are asked to take action against the official if it is observed  that
    1. Such an official or officials did not protect and stopped the incident, in spite of having complete knowledge of it
    1. Where the instance has already happened, and the official or officials did not rapidly apprehend and started criminal proceedings against the offenders.

The Court ordered that in spite of the aforementioned measures, FIR should be recorded without any kind of delay and safety of the family with the victim shall be priortised. The enquiry associated to lynching matters should be performed by the Nodal Officer. The particular victim compensation scheme with interim relief provided under section 357A of CrPC, 1973 should be made by the State Governments. Fast track courts must be assigned for the brutal cases of lynching and hoard violence and the utmost sentence as a paradigm to construct fear of rules and regulations must be presented to the accused. Protecting the witnesses of the case should be of paramaount significance and responsibility of the poilce as well as the court. The services of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, to decide a legal aid activist or promoter should be awarded to the victims.

As stated before, rumours play a huge role of catalysts for the people who are a part of lynching activities. Rumor is formed by words and social media as well for instance, Twitter, Whatsapp or Facebook. With this aspect, the government has directed the officials of whatsapp to utilize and exercise technology to stop such kind of rumors. It cannot escape “responsibility and accountability” across its site being used to spread out rumors that has led to deaths of poor and innocent people in the country. In an answer to this issue, Whatsapp has issued advertisements in different   newspapers   providing   “simple   measure” which can   support   the   users   to   settle   if “something sent on whatsapp to you is true”. The social media platform also introduced new element to tag forwarded messages and not crafted by the sender.

Ever since the start of ancient development, it has been a rule for the powerful to rule and victimize the weak. The domineering techniques of the mainstream section have marked itself through different ways – for certain places it is symbolized in racist propensities, in other parts it has been seen via deliberate victimization of customary and religious marginalities. In our country, India it is the second type of practice that runs primarily.  Without a doubt there is no place for the notion of crowded mechanism in democracy, the structuralism of the crowd is the outcome of individual thinking or can be taken as rational public’s bitterness towards any specific crime. 

It is as citizens our responsibility to not join such groups blindly without knowing the agenda of the crowd; it is suggested to try to rectify it. This is the demand of time and it is also a necessity keeping in mind the increase in the no. of cases of lynching. Hate gives birth to social classification and discrimination and adds in forming the psychology of “us” v/s “them”, regardless of the fact that it has revealed itself to acts of hate speech and violence. Community and society’s silent suffering is seen as a chance or an opportunity to spread violence. With the help of a thorough analysis of the historical perspective of hate crimes and hate speech and the analysis after is a modern-day context.

Managing hate crimes needs a broad approach where the judiciary is well aware and ready to record these kinds of crimes and is making an effort to know what the victim is trying to signify and pinpoint from the incident, the rules and regulations need to be sterner for the crime to never really happen in the first place. The abovementioned analysis provides us the conclusion that in spite of acknowledging the dangerous temperament of such acts and the after effects on the society, the bodies of the government has a long way to pass through is so far as accurate formulation, adjudication and implementation of provisions and laws are apprehended to make sure a state where offences are on the grounds of hate are decreased to a minimum extent. Mob lynching has become a social threat.

Therefore, the government should enact strict laws to deal with it. Strict actions should be taken against those who fulfill their purpose by inciting the mob. Government should take essential steps to stop these types of disturbances and hate crime effect. Government should start working on their educational models to educate people because educationally and factually unaware people easily get influenced by any kind of fake news and hate speech without knowing the facts of the matter. These kinds of disturbances damage our nation socially and economically. Educationalists should also give voice to our obligation to ensure an environment in which all students can focus on their learning. That obligation extends not just too face-to-face encounters but to those present online as well. Media is the 4th pillar of democracy and they should maintain the dignity of journalism because wrong media trails also directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally spreads hatred in the society and in the world as well.

Author: Tejal Tapaswani Nagauri from SLS. Hyderabad.

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