Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday blamed fake news and rumours on social media behind a spate of lynchings in the country while putting the onus of maintaining law and order on state governments.
He was responding to Congress leader K C Venugopal, who raised the issue of lynching, last week’s attack on Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand and trolling of external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. (Live updates)
Singh said the Centre cannot remain silent on the issue even though law and order was a state subject.
“I condemn all acts of mob lynchings. Fake news and rumours are behind such incidents,” Rajnath Singh said. “I have issued advisories to state government in 2016 and 2018. We have asked social media service providers to install check. Such incidents are unfortunate. We have asked the Chief Ministers to take firm action against the culprits.”
He added that although law and order is a state subject, the Centre has asked social media service providers to take adequate measures.
“I appeal for strict action against the perpetrators of such crimes,” the home minister said amid protests by Opposition leaders.
Singh’s statement did not cut much ice with the Congress which staged a walkout.
“The home minister’s statement in Lok Sabha was not satisfactory at all. That is why we staged a walkout from the House. This is not a game of ping pong that states and the Centre keep shifting responsibilities,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said.
The Congress had given an adjournment notice to discuss mob lynchings. The Congress also asked the government to pass a law on lynching.
Earlier, Venugopal said that while these mob lynching and physical attacks on people, including those with dissenting views, have become the order of the day, the government was maintaining a silence.
He also criticised Union minister Jayant Sinha for garlanding a group of men convicted by a trial court in a lynching case. The men were out on bail when Sinha met them.
“Is this the rule of the law? These are very serious issues. I request the government to secure the democratic environment of the country,” he said.
In the Rajya Sabha also, the opposition raised the issue of lynchings.
“Are we not ashamed of our country?” CPI leader D Raja asked.
Last week, a software engineer from Hyderabad became the latest victim of lynching when a crowd of villagers in Kanataka’s Bidar district attacked the young man and three others suspecting them to be child lifters.
(With inputs from agencies)