Dhaka, Bangladesh
End mob rule

What others say

End mob rule

The right to protest peacefully is integral to democracy. But so is the rule of law which includes protection of life and property from wanton damage – else we get mobocracy in place of democracy. Too often, this difference is ignored in India. While peaceful protesters are browbeaten, violent mobs are given free rein. Thus protesters repeatedly riot, kill, maim and damage property, public and private, as a way to attract attention or display anger. Often, this criminal conduct goes unchallenged and is rationalised under the rubric of protest – governing parties even look on benignly in the belief it is helping them buttress vote banks. Therefore, it is heartening that Supreme Court has asked government to bring in legislation which prosecutes those who are responsible for damages and extracts compensation from them. The law’s aim and remit should be to cover people who instigate the protests. Two, they should also be held accountable when it comes to fixing liability. Such legislation should be easy to enact as apex court directions have covered this ground. The directions even allow high courts to take suo motu cognisance of violent disruptions, which was what happened in Haryana following the recent conviction of Ram Rahim, head of Dera Sacha Sauda. If, for example, the Karni Sena knew that if it wrecked movie theatres it would have to pay to rebuild them, and its leaders would have to face jail time, it would have second thoughts about issuing blood curdling threats. Legislation fixing liability must not exclude political parties from their purview, else it will be toothless. In keeping with Supreme Court directions, law enforcement authorities should also be held accountable whenever they are negligent in controlling mob violence. — The Times of India

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