Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday announced in the Assembly that his government will enact laws to curb incidents of mob lynching and other hate crimes, the Hindustan Times reported.

He expressed concern over the rising incidents of mob lynching. “Incidents like mob lynching disturb all...someone is killed because of a misunderstanding, which is very disturbing,” he said. “Religion should be kept out of this.”

“It is very unfortunate to see how 20-30 people lynched a human being,” Gehlot said, according to The Times of India. “Such incidents have no place in society. It is our duty to bring in a law to give strict punishment to those involved in such acts.” He asked the Opposition MLAs if they do not feel sad about the lynching incidents. When they responded with a “yes”, he added: “Our government is committed to bringing a strict law to punish culprits behind such heinous crimes.”

The chief minister also recalled a incident in Sirohi district, where a couple was killed for getting married. “What right do they have to kill?” he asked. “A strict law will be enacted to curb incidents of honour killing too.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party protested this move and said it was pointless to bring any fresh law, The New Indian Express reported. “Already people who were involved in mob lynching cases are under arrest and the law is quite strong,” BJP’s Rajasthan Vice President Gyandev Ahuja said. “There are several sections of IPC and CRPC to also tackle cases of mob lynching and honour killing. We can’t understand what weaknesses the chief minister sees in the present circumstances that he now needs to bring a new law.”

Lynchings in Rajasthan

Rajasthan has witnessed several incidents of mob lynching in the past. The latest incident occurred on July 13, when a mob beat up a police constable who was trying to resolve a land dispute in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district. In 2018, Rakbar Khan and his friend Aslam were transporting two cows through a forest area in Alwar district, when a mob attacked them suspecting that they were smuggling cows. While Aslam managed to escape and hide in bushes, Rakbar Khan died of his injuries while in police custody.

In April 2017, a 55-year-old man, Pehlu Khan, died of injuries he sustained during an attack by a group of cow vigilantes in Alwar. In November that year, cow vigilantes had shot dead a 35-year-old Muslim man in the district.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had decried cases of lynching and cow vigilantism and said that mobocracy cannot be allowed in society. “No citizen can take law into his hands nor become law unto himself,” the bench had said. It had also proposed a set of preventive, remedial and punitive measures to curb instances of lynching. A year later, Uttar Pradesh, which has also faced several mob lynchings, drafted a law that proposed seven years to life in jail for attackers.