The group, constituted last year, would continue to function with the new Union home minister as its head, a report says.
New Delhi: Amit Shah will head the Group of Ministers (GoM) that was constituted last year to combat lynchings. Since the GoM is position-specific, there will be no need to reconstitute it, a senior government official told The Hindu, adding that it would continue functioning.
According to the report, the members of the GoM are external affairs minister S. Jaishankar, transport minister Nitin Gadkari, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and social justice and empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
On Friday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre and ten state governments, seeking their response to an allegation that the directives it had issued last year to prevent mob lynchings were not implemented.
Two days before the apex court’s order, minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha that there was “no common pattern of mob lynching in the country”. He also reportedly said that the government had constituted a GoM to deliberate on incidents of lynching and make recommendations to tackle the crime.
According to The Hindu, a high-level committee, headed by home secretary Rajiv Gauba, submitted its report to the GoM in Septemeber 2018. The report contained measures to prevent lynchings, such as the strengthening laws by inserting clauses in the IPC and the CrPC through parliamentary approval.
The Supreme Court had issued a judgment in July 2018, and issued a slew of directions to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with mob violence and cow vigilantism. It had also asked the legislature to consider the possibility of enacting a new penal provision to deal with mob violence.
Meanwhile, after the high-level committee submitted its report to the Centre, the government instead held a series of meetings with social media platforms. According to The Hindu, the platforms were asked by the Centre to take “concrete steps to take down content that fuelled rumours and contributed to lynching”.
In May and June last year, at least 20 people were lynched because of fake rumours of child kidnapping gangs that were circulated on social media messaging platforms such as WhatsApp. The Centre rapped WhatsApp, saying the platform was being “abused” and it should take “immediate action to end this menace”.
Over the past few months, several instances of Muslim men were assaulted by mobs and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. The most notable incident was the lynching of Tabrez Ansari, a 24-year-old who was tied up and thrashed, while being forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’.
Protesting such incidents, 49 artists and eminent personalities wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying mob lynching should be stopped immediately. ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a provocative war cry with many lynchings taking place in its name, they said.