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Bill to protect from mob violence – Will it work?

 Whether the passing of the Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Act 2018 by the state assembly secretariat- an appreciable a wise or appreciable one is a matter needs to be pondered. Even as the passing of the Bill is a good initiative that showed that this  government takes the mob violence with extreme seriousness after witnessing series of such violence in the state, the question which is still being asked is whether the newly passed bill will be able to serve its purpose.
If  one looks at the Bill passed by the state assembly today under the title – The Manipur Protection from Mob Violence Act 2018, it sound that earlier the government did not have any legal measures to punish criminal if the crime was committed in the form of mob by gathering large number of people.
Already there are various sections in the IPCs and CrPC , which have already incorporated the punishment for any violence if causes grievous hurt to any individuals. But none of the victim of mob violence in the state had ever got punished. It is a matter of time whether the newly passed act will be able to give justice to victims of mob mentality criminals.
But if the Bill passed today lacked various sociological perspective than giving a hand to give justice to victims of mob violence with any new legislation will be like a tiger without teethes.
Well, “Mob” from the sociological point of the view is a short gathering of people who got into involved in a sudden upheavals or upsurges. It probably seems to have more negative impacts rather than the positive ones. Contextualising the situation in Manipur society especially, mob justice is the dichotomy of the solidarity which instigates a sense of fear psychosis to the whole of the family members of the culprits rather than bears the heat of social justice by the culprits themselves alone. Dismantling houses, ravaging properties and destroying the belongings of the culprits are the major ways of punishing the culprits through mob justice. It is an exemplary type of repressive punishment to the culprits so that the other members in the society could learn a lesson. It warns other members of the society to forbid replicating the same act or other heinous crimes.
Once a policeman remarked, “a mob has no heads, we were being taught like that in our training.” The intrinsic meaning being very clear, people in a mob are irrational. This perspective may probably be the immediate cause for the time and again act of brutality of the state forces over the people who got involved in mobs or other types of sudden upsurges. Whenever there are social collectives or solidarity in movements, they might have interpreted it from the mob angle and so usually discharged with aggressive acts to subdue them. The traditional methods employed in controlling are arresting the trouble makers, using tear gas, lathi charge, deploying more military personnel creating an atmosphere of militarization etc. In a turbulent society like Manipur, sudden upheavals becomes very common and so mob control mechanisms also needed to become more strategic rather chaotic or inhuman.
Traditional societies are governed by strict social mores and sanctions. Customary laws provide ways of sanctioning against the anti-social acts. They stigmatised the culprits as an exemplary phenomena. Traditional ways of punishing culprits may be far from legal approval. And at some point of time such customary laws overreact and turn out to be destructive and disapproving.  ‘Mob Justice’ is a prominent traditional way of settling crimes and a violent way of punishing offenders. It justifies an anti-social act through another heinous act. It implies approval of the Hamurabi’s code “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”  Criminals are punished through another criminal act.
Mob justice doesn’t take into account the innocent dear and near ones of the accused. The dire consequence of the crime committed is made to bear by the whole family members of the culprit including the aged, women and children. When houses and belongings are burnt, dismantled, ravaged, ex-communicated or made to banished from the society, the fear psychosis that gripped the rest of the family member’s minds and has an intense negative impact. Children, in particular are traumatised. In the sole attempt to stabilise a criminal act, the whole family members, except for the culprit, again become victims of the trauma. The fear psychosis inflicted by such irrational act is really criminalising. Thus mob violence is rather a victimising act rather than sympathetic towards the victims.
Thus, it remains a fact that mob violence is a crime which goes out of control many times besides having Laws for punishment which means it is a mass understanding which is required and not a hard punishment which will help preventing the mob violence.

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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