Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday denied that mob lynchings had increased under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government, News18 reported. “A certain propaganda is being created about this,” he alleged.

The BJP president said there was no need for a new law to stop lynchings. “If any person is killed, we have Section 302 for that,” Shah told News18 in an interview. “This has been applied everywhere. Bharatiya Janata Party governments have investigated such matters and chargesheeted suspects. Now, if you want to give it a political angle or you want to understand this as a social evil, then that is what society has to decide.” Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code prescribes the punishment for murder.

Last year, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to enact a legislation against mob lynchings. West Bengal and Rajasthan have already passed a new law to curb such killings. But Shah said: “There are laws, and there is a need to properly investigate the matter, apply those laws. Home ministry has issued an advisory in the matter too.”

Shah denied that the victims of lynching were mostly Muslims or Dalits. “It isn’t as such. You can look at the analysis of previous incidents too,” the BJP president added. “Such incidents happen to the poor.”

In July, 49 eminent personalities had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against mob lynchings. In the letter, the individuals said that “Jai Shri Ram” had become a provocative war cry” and the reason for a number of lynchings. A sedition case was filed against these individuals last month for allegedly tarnishing the image of the country. The government said it had nothing to do with the case.

On October 9, the Bihar Police said 9 the case would be closed as it was “maliciously false”.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat had referred to lynching incidents in his Vijayadashami speech on October 8. Bhagwat claimed that lynching was a western concept.

‘Use Hindi as a second language’

Shah also said he never asked for Hindi to be imposed on non-Hindi communities. “I said that there is a need to strengthen all languages in India,” he added. “Instead of using English, Hindi should be a common second language. Hindi is not in competition with any local language, I myself come from a non-Hindi speaking state.”

The BJP chief also parried a question about the “One Nation, One Language” theory the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has propagated. “I have said this before and I will say this again, all languages need to be strengthened,” he added. “Our local languages are far more prosperous than any foreign influence.”

No rift with Janata Dal (United), says Shah

Amit Shah on Wednesday also clarified that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would lead the BJP-Janata Dal (United) coalition in the state Assembly elections next year. Shah said the alliance was “unbreakable” and would contest the elections together.

When asked about a reported rift between the BJP and the Janata Dal (United), Shah said: “In a coalition, there are always tiffs and they should be considered a parameter of a healthy coalition. The only thing is that these differences in opinion shouldn’t turn into a change of hearts.”

Rumours of a rift began when the Janata Dal (United) was offered just one ministerial berth at the Centre following the BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections. After declining the offer, Kumar expanded the Bihar Cabinet but did not include a single BJP MLA. Both parties also did not attend Iftaar feasts organised by each other.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.