The Madhya Pradesh government is all set to bring in a stringent law against stone-pelters, with provisions to attach assets of the accused to pay for damage caused to any property, including that belonging to individuals, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said here on Sunday.
Speaking to mediapersons, Chouhan said, “Stone-pelters are enemies of society, whoever they are. Stone-pelting is not an ordinary crime, it can kill people, create an atmosphere of terror, chaos, and disrupt law and order.” Therefore, it would no longer be treated as a petty crime, but a stringent law formulated to check it, the CM said.
The move comes after two cases of stone-pelting on rallies by Hindu right-wing organisations in Ujjain and Indore districts seeking donations for the Ram temple, as they passed through Muslim-dominated localities.
“If someone raises their issues peacefully, then democracy prevails. But no one has permission to damage public property,” Chouhan said, adding that instructions had been given to formulate the law and work on it had started.
A senior official said the law being drafted by the Madhya Pradesh government is on the lines of the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Ordinance, 2020, with more stringent provisions. “The basic idea of the law is to cover all public and private property destroyed through acts of any sort of vandalism, be it stone-pelting or arson, where the accused would have to pay for the damage.”
The official said the MP law will have a wider definition of the scope of private property. “UP has defined private property as that belonging to a religious trust, the Wakf Board or any firm, excluding property owned by an individual. What we aim is that, in a law and order issue, if someone’s car is damaged, he can lodge an FIR with the police and approach the claims tribunal. It will not be a relief mechanism where the government will pay for the damage, but the accused will have to pay. ”
Stone-pelting is currently covered under Section 336 of the IPC, and the law will add a section providing for attachment of property.
After the recent stone-pelting incidents, 18 people were arrested from Ujjain’s Begum Bagh, with the National Security Act imposed against 10, while in Indore’s Chandan Khedi, 27 villagers were arrested and sent to jail while more are being identified.
The rallies on which stones were pelted had been organised by the VHP as part of its drive to raise donations for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The VHP has said about 1.25 crore families in 50,000 villages will be covered as part of the drive.
No action has been taken on counter-complaints by the accused, who have alleged that the stone-pelting was in retaliation to provocative slogans raised at the rallies. At Indore and Mandsaur, participants in the rallies had also climbed onto minarets of mosques.