The Opposition and centre were locked in a bitter exchange of words over the issue of mob lynching in Lok Sabha on Monday. While Congress accused the Narendra Modi led government of encouraging organisations behind the violence in the garb of cow vigilantism, BJP slammed the opposition for repeatedly targeting it saying many cases cited by them are sub-judice.
Initiating a discussion on the issue of mob lynching in the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said ‘Hindustan’ should not be allowed to become “lynchistan”. He also said that violence in the name of religion and cow protection began only after BJP assumed power.
“There is an atmosphere of fear and terror across the country, which has brought a bad name to India in the world” said the leader. Holding Hindutva groups like Bajrang Dal and VHP responsible for the violence Kharge said, “Why are incidents of mob violence increasing so rapidly? Who is allowing groups such as the Bajrang Dal and VHP to flourish? It is also being done so that your ideology and philosophy could be established in the country,” the Congress leader said, pointing to the BJP’s “links” with these outfits.
He also read out a list of the violence carried out in the name of cow vigilantism. He also said the states of Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, where BJP governments were in power, have become hubs of mob lynching.
Kharge also referred to the Faridabad lynching in which Junaid Khan was killed. Condemning his death, the Congress leader said that people from Hindutva organisations are taking law into their own hands to kill people over beef. BJP Leader Nishkant Dubey objected to Kharge citing incidents, saying many of the cases he was referring to were sub-judice. Anant Kumar from BJP also said that every state that he mentioned acted on those who resorted to violence.
He also slammed Kharge for invoking former President Pranab Mukherjee’s commencements from his farewell address. Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan also criticised Kharge for doing so, saying that Mukherjee’s name cannot be taken to prove his point.
Accusing the government of double speaking on violence, Kharge said the Kerala governor had summoned the DGP on the murder of a BJP worker, but no such action was taken when people were killed in other states. He also accused the Prime Minister of not taking any strong action to control the violence. “You talk of action, but what action have you taken? There was a mob lynching incident the same day that the Prime Minister spoke out against such incidents.We ask the Prime Minister – What have you done about it? Where is the action?”
BJP leader Hukumdev Narayan Yadav slammed the opposition for targeting the government. “When PM himself condemned mob incidents repeatedly then its up-to states to follow law. Centre can’t send paramilitary on its own,” he was quoted as saying by ANI. He also lashed out at Kharge for bringing up the issue of Faridabad lynching and equated the lynching incidents with the killing of RSS workers in Kerala and that of a police officer in Kashmir and asked whether these were not equivalent to mob violence. “The Junaid incident was a fight over a train seat, why are you linking it with religion? What about Kerala? Is the mob lynching of DSP Ayub Pandith in J&K not an incident worth mentioning?” He said a fight between two ideologies has been going on for several decades and asserted that those who follow the path of “economic development and nationalism” will come out victorious.
Sougata Roy of Trinamool Congress quoted the findings of a magazine to say that between 2010-2017 there were 63 incidents of mob violence in the name of cow protection. He also demanded a separate law — “Manav Suraksha Kanoon” (human protection law) — to deal with incidents of lynching, saying that there are no enough mechanisams now. He also agreed to Kharge’s remarks that VHP and Bajrang Dal were leading the mob violence. Roy referred to the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan and Junaid Khan and said it took long time for the state and central governments to condemn such lynching incidents. He maintained that the Prime Minister has made “just two statements” — one in 2016 and the other a few days ago — and asked, “Why did it take him so long?”
Asaduddin Owaisi, President of AIMIM, meanwhile, took a jibe at the Modi government saying, mob lynching will continue to be a part of India as long as BJP is at the helm of power. BJD leader Tathagat Satpathy also crticised the incidents of mob violence and said that rural economy is getting damaged by incidents of lynching as an economic cycle has been stopped.
Defending the government, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said law and order comes under the state government. “Do you want the Centre to intervene whenever states do not fulfil their responsibilities?…. Should the Centre send Army to handle the situation,” he asked the Opposition. He also said in case the new law is brought in, the responibility of implementing it will be upon the state government.
Targeting the Congress party, he said while Modi has condemned such incidents, the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots had remarked “when a big tree falls, the earth does shake”. Kharge objected to this saying that the discussion is about what has happened under the present government and answers should be given for that rather than talk about 1984 issues which the House had already discussed.
In order to control the tension in the House, Paswan concluded suggesting that at the end of this discussion, the House should together condemn such lynching incidents. He also appealed all political parties and chief ministers to investigate such cases wthin 24 hours and a murder case should be lodged against the guilty. Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs also added that advisory has been issued to every state ordering them to take strong action against mob lynching. He also lashed out at the opposition for selective outrage. Calling mob lynching “the worst form of crime,” he said that it should be condemned universally.
(With inputs from PTI)