BJD leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab speaks to The Indian Express on lynchings fuelled by child-lifting rumours and sought to connect the paranoia with child trafficking.
You sought to connect the large number of missing children with the issue of lynchings. How do you look at the problem?
Lynching in Assam was a result of child-lifting rumours. It was the same in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. NCRB data for 2016 shows that more than 1 lakh children have gone missing. Not more than 40 per cent have been traced. Trafficking is more common among girl children. It is happening a lot in tribal areas. Police there is weak. So there is paranoia. Local government needs to take proper action.
Most lynchings have been a result of WhatsApp rumours.
Ironically, social media should be creating awareness but has become a source of misinformation. These are challenges of modern technology which need to be tackled. There are no provisions for this kind of thing in IPC and CrPC. So the system has to be alert.
Government is mulling checks on social media to stem this problem.
It is a double-edged sword. If we empower the government to peep into messages, people will not appreciate it. But if things are going out of hand, something has to be done. The government needs to find out the person behind creation and proliferation of a mischievous message and punish him. More than that, a social consciousness regarding this needs to be created.
With a minister garlanding lynching convicts, the government has been accused of promoting violent methods in the name of cow protection. Your opinion?
Lynching is a heinous crime and must be condemned with full force. Stringent action should be taken against perpetrators and no sympathy should be shown. It is a terrorist activity. Government as such should be for social peace and tranquility. Cow vigilantism is a slur on our society. I condemn it.
What do you think the government can and should do?
First step should be that political parties should keep away from cow vigilantes and ensure prompt prosecution of those involved in lynching incidents. Government or a party should not be seen to be sympathetic to cow vigilantes. Selling and buying cattle is part of sustaining rural economy. Cow vigilantism is destroying rural economy.