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Govt counters Opposition’s ‘lynchistan’ slur: Don’t malign PM on state subject

The Lok Sabha witnessed heated arguments during a marathon six-hour debate on the issue of lynching.

india Updated: Aug 01, 2017 00:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lok Sabha,Kiren Rijiju,Mob lynching
MoS for home Kiren Rijiju speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi during the ongoing monsoon session on July 31.(PTI Photo)

The government termed lynching an “unacceptable and worst form of crime” but accused the Opposition on Monday of politicising the topic to malign Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country.

Winding up a six-hour debate in the Lok Sabha, junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said lynching happened in the country irrespective of which party is in power and insisted that states are empowered to act against the culprits.

“How is it possible for the central government to intervene in a state subject? Does the Opposition want the Prime Minister to take over the state administration and break the federal structure? He was the first to condemn such incidents,” he said.

“We are working under the provisions of the Constitution. It is the responsibility of state governments to deal with such crimes and the Centre has issued clear advisory in this regard.”

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Trinamool Congress parliamentarian Saugata Roy had jointly moved a motion “of discussion on the situation arising out of reported incidents of atrocities and lynching in mob violence in the country”.

But members of the Congress, Left parties, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) were not satisfied with the minister’s remarks. They walked out of the House.

Initiating the debate, Kharge said: “Hindustan should not be allowed to become lynchistan.”

He alleged that the Modi government was against minorities, Dalits and women, saying these sections had borne the maximum brunt of mob violence.

“The Prime Minister says he is against such violence but what action has he taken? He says something and does something else.”

For his part, Trinamool’s Roy quoted findings of a magazine that highlight 63 incidents of mob violence in the name of cow protection between 2010 and 2017.

He demanded a separate “manav suraksha kanoon”, or human protection law, to deal with such incidents, saying the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) don’t define lynching.

“The government keeps saying it wants Congress-free India, I want to ask, do you want to make a Muslim-free India as well,” Roy said, provoking protests from the BJP members.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed the debate under Rule 193 that does not entail voting.

Acrimonious exchanges were witnessed during the discussion with the opposition and treasury benches trading charges against each other.

The Opposition accused the BJP-led NDA government of “encouraging groups behind the violence” by cow vigilantes.

Kharge said organisations such as the VHP and Bajrang Dal were involved in such incidents that would become a major threat to the nation’s integrity, and alleged that BJP-ruled Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh had become centres of mob lynching.

The BJP charged the rival parties with “enacting a drama in the name of secularism” to defame Modi.

“You have to stop vitiating the atmosphere of the country. If the Prime Minister has appealed, that should be respected. Everybody in India and outside is praising him. You get unmasked when you raise these issues. I am warning you. The more you malign us, the stronger we get,” Rijiju said.

But Trinamool’s Roy sought to know why the Prime Minister made just two statements so far — once in 2016 and then a few days ago — on mob violence. “Why did it take him so long?”

Union minister and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan suggested that the House should bring a resolution to condemn lynching, and chief ministers should investigate such cases within 24 hours of their occurrence and a murder case filed against the guilty.

Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule supported Paswan’s suggestion.

“We should send a message we are one as Parliament in condemning it. We should pass a resolution,” she said.

Owaisi, the MP for Hyderabad, was not convinced with the government’s response. He feared that the mob lynching will continue as the BJP government promotes religion as an ideology.

“When the BJP adopts constitutional nationalism, lynching will end,” he said.

First Published: Jul 31, 2017 22:51 IST