The Madhya Pradesh government is set to enact an “extraordinary” law against stone pelting, after several such incidents – during rallies organised by right-wing groups in the name of Lord Ram – were reported in the past months, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
“It is ‘raj dharma’ to take action against criminals. Stone pelting is not an ordinary violation… that is why it requires an extraordinary law,” the Chief Minister told reporters.
“At times, stone pelting poses (a) danger to life. These kinds of criminals are not simple offenders. They won’t be spared,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Home Department source said that under the new law those found guilty of will pay for damages caused; if they can’t, any property they own will be auctioned off to pay for compensation.
Sources said damages will be assessed by a senior state official and a claims tribunal will issue the order to recover compensation.
There will be a provision to complete the process in three months. Interest will be charged in case compensation is not paid on time.
मध्य प्रदेश में पत्थरबाजों के ख़िलाफ़ सख़्त क़ानून पत्थरबाजोंं से संपत्ति के नुकसान की वसूली के लिये कानून का मसौदा तैयार,अगर दोषी मुआवजा नहीं भरता तो उसकी संपत्ति नीलाम करके पीड़ित को पैसा दिया जाएगा @email@example.com/P5SogksWp8
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The proposed law, which the state says draws on similar legislation in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, will be placed before the cabinet once it is approved by Mr Chouhan.
In December stones were thrown at a rallies held in Indore and Ujjain by right-wing groups, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, to raise funds for the Ram temple in UP’s Ayodhya.
However, Muslims in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh said their houses and places of worship had also been targeted during these rallies.
Recently, a delegation led by the VHP’s Malwa Prant called on Chief Minister Chouhan in Indore and demanded strict action against stone-pelters.
The opposition Congress has objected to this law; former Law Minister PC Sharma said: “Now, there are laws for stone pelting, knife attacks, gunmen… but this is the government’s effort to divert attention from lack of development work. We will raise this issue in the Assembly.”
The Home Department says the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act (1984) provides for a prison term of up to five years for damaging public property.
It also says the new law is needed because while the Indian Penal Code mentions action against rioting and violent activities, it does not include stone pelting or compensation for damages.
The new law is likely to be introduced in the Budget session, which begins February 22.