Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

Govt issues advisory on lynchings, tells states to appoint nodal officers

An advisory asked states to appoint a nodal officer, who will set up a task force to gather intelligence inputs about people who are likely to indulge in vigilantism and hate crime

New Delhi: As Parliament erupted on Tuesday over the spate of mob lynchings in the country, the Union home ministry issued an advisory to states—its second this month—asking them to take action.

The advisory asked states to appoint a nodal officer, who will set up a task force to gather intelligence inputs about people who are likely to indulge in vigilantism and hate crime.

“The nodal officer shall hold regular meetings with the local intelligence units… so as to identify the tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching in the district and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material through different social media platforms," the home ministry’s directive said.

The ministry has also instructed the directors general of police of all states to step up police patrolling in sensitive areas, “keeping in view incidents of the past and intelligence obtained by the office of the director general."

States have also been directed to prepare a compensation model for victims of lynching, on the basis of the extent of injury and financial loss.

Amid an uproar by the opposition in both Houses of Parliament on the lynching of 28-year-old Rakbar Khan in Rajasthan’s Alwar, Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said incidents of mob lynching were “not new."

Singh attacked the Congress party, saying “lynching episodes did not start recently and have been going on since years. The biggest mob lynching case happened in 1984."

Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria took stock of the situation post Friday’s lynching. “According to the evidence we have collected, it looks like a custodial death. Further investigation is underway," Kataria said.

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, raising the Alwar lynching in Parliament, said the issue needed to be taken up by the Supreme Court and demanded a sitting bench probe into the matter.

Even as the Union home ministry continued to maintain that it had no record of lynchings in the country, the centre set up a high powered panel on Monday to address the issue of lynchings.

Singh said “the high-level committee chaired by Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba would probe cases of mob violence and lynching and suggest steps to be taken to tackle the situation. The committee has been asked to submit its report in the next four weeks to the group of ministers, led by Singh. The final recommendations will then be made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

On Friday, 28-year-old Rakbar Khan was lynched by suspected cow vigilantes in Alwar. In the same district, last year, Pehlu Khan—a dairy farmer—was lynched to death by cow vigilantes.

Reacting to the case, Singh stated that “law and order is a state subject and a high-level probe has been ordered into the case and assured that action will be taken against those found guilty."

The opposition however, expressed outrage over the growing episodes of lynching. Causing a stir over mob lynchings, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) also demanded a law to prevent killings by cow vigilantes.

Raising the issue through a zero hour mention, Shanta Chhetri of the TMC cited media reports, saying that “88 precious lives have been lost in several lynching incidents since this government came to power."

Sudip Bandhyopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress alleged that Rajnath Singh was trying to pass the buck onto states after the home minister said “law and order is a state subject."