SC On Mob Violence

It directed several preventive, remedial and punitive measures to deal with lynching and mob violence.

  • Suggestion of the SC: The SC has suggested measures and given guidelines, for prevention, redressal and punishment of the crime of mob violence.
  • For instance, appointment by states of senior police officers as nodal officers in districts,
  • identification of vulnerable and sensitive regions and more efficient patrolling of highways in these areas.
  • Strengthening legal machinery: The lodging of FIRs without delay, and
  • the framing of compensation schemes for victims and their families.
  • Designated fast track courts to try the culprits and prompt departmental action against police officers and administrative officials who fail to uphold the law.
  • Special law: The court has also recommended that a special law be framed by Parliament, creating a separate offence of lynching.

Response In Other Countries

  • Banning: Some have banned Whatsapp from time to time. Freedom House, a US-based government-funded NGO, has reported WhatsApp was disrupted in 12 of 65 countries i.e. Turkey, Zimbabwe, Azerbaijan, Qatar, UAE, Bangladesh, China, Morroco, Egypt, China, Saudi Arabia in 2016 and 2017.
  •  Social media tax: Uganda has introduced a social media tax to check online gossip, among other objectives, and on Sunday it made social media inaccessible to those who have not paid the tax.
  • Fact finding initiative: In Mexico, private groups collaborated to set up Verificado 2018, a fact-checking initiative that tries to intervene in the spread of fake news on WhatsApp, particularly during the recent elections.
  • Comprova initiative of Brazil: Here 24 Brazilian media outlets are fact checking viral content ahead of elections in October 2018. The media outlets span across the board with top TV, print, radio and online media companies participating in the network. Comprova is working on a WhatsApp dissemination strategy where they involve local ambassadors and influencers to debunk fake news.

Steps That Need To Be Taken

  • Role of police: The state governments must ensure a better, swifter response from the police and help buttress local intelligence networks so that the police arrives before a mob is formed, not after its work is done. For example- The police in Hyderabad have created a WhatsApp account that anyone can message with rumors that concern them, which is a best practice that the company plans to emulate elsewhere.
  •  Role of enforcement authorities: Similarly, enforcement agencies need to develop standard operating protocols to tackle such situations. Such a step needs to be reinforced by appropriate regulatory changes that make it mandatory for entities in the chain of information dissemination to share appropriate alerts with the law enforcement authorities, in a real-time electronic format.
  • Creating deterrence: There is a need to abolish impunity and instill fear of the law in lynch mobs.
  • Mass awareness: Mass awareness campaigns and outreach is needed in communities which place a high degree of trust in the written word to treat what they receive on their mobile phones with a degree of healthy skepticism.
  • Media literacy: The government needs to invest much more resources into education of children and adults alike, in media literacy.
  • Localization of data: The government should also ask the social media giants to establish and install servers in India.
  • Posting counter-videos: The one of the method to check fake news is to post counter-videos clarifying the actual position, the other is to register the offences.
  • Role of local authorities: The district administrations and gram panchayats have should be asked to reach out to locals to persuade them against falling for rumours and to come to the authorities if  they have any fears.
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