In the backdrop of lynching incidents and mob attacks at Dadri, Una, Alwar and Jharkhand, the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, has called for a national debate on rising cases of group violence.
The Delhi-based institute, headed by former Uttar Pradesh DGP Javeed Ahmad, is inviting judges, prison authorities, police officers and prosecutors to a two-day seminar starting October 31. It has asked state governments and Union Territories to send their nominations. Officers said the institute provides teaching and training to stakeholders in central and state governments.
In its communication to the states, the institute said: “Violence becomes a matter of great concern when it grows manifold in degrees acquiring a shape of individual and group violence in forms of communal violence, lynching, riots, mob attacks, ethnic violence, resulting in serious threat to human lives and properties. The gravity of crime becomes more acute when these incidents are driven by a mindset of dislike based on grounds of caste, creed or religion.”
“…Indian society traditionally has shown great ability to accept dissent and diversity and has been able to absorb different strains into its fold. This has co-existed within the framework of a grossly stratified social structure which has within it gross inequality legitimised by religious-cultural traditions… Old forms of inequality have morphed into new forms in the last 70 years, often on the back of the peculiar politico-social journey of the Indian nation,” it stated.
An officer at the institute told The Indian Express: “The idea behind this is to understand why such violence (lynchings, mob attacks) is happening, why as a society we have become so tolerant of such crimes and, how such abnormal behaviour has acquired social acceptance. Those who will participate in the discussions for two days, starting October 31, will be judges, prison authorities, police officers and prosecutors who handle these crimes at different stages.”
In a recent reply in Parliament on incidents of lynchings, the government stated that since law and order is a state subject, there is no central database available on cases related to lynchings.
According to the institute, recent crime statistics indicate “a rising trend which is being perpetrated through insensitivity, cruelty and being instigated by some interests groups. Such types of crime have not only created a sense of fear and insecurity in society in general, and poor and vulnerable groups of citizens in particular, but have also affected the orderly functioning of society”.
Detailing the objective of the seminar, the institute stated: “Such crimes directly or indirectly take a heavy toll on the social fabric in terms of human and economic losses, seriously distorting the developmental goals of society. Police and other governmental institutions are put to excessive strain in dealing with such deviant behaviour by large sections of the population, especially youth. What is more worrying is the tacit tolerance and acceptability of such violence by sections of the society.”
Officers said the institute plans to formulate effective prevention and control strategies and come up with a coordination mechanism between different sectors of the criminal justice system to deal with both offenders and victims of lynchings and communal violence.