Bhopal: Following in the footsteps of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday announced that the state would frame laws against stone-pelting. The CM said the laws would have provisions to attach property of the accused and make them pay for any damage to public property.
While addressing the media in Bhopal, Chouhan said that “stone-pelters are enemies of society; whoever they are their properties would be auctioned to compensate losses.”
The state’s cabinet approved the Freedom to Religion Bill, 2020 – also referred to as the ‘Love Jihad’ law – as an ordinance with a provision of ten years imprisonment and a heavy penalty. It comes at a time when the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh introduced a similar legislation.
Chouhan added that stone-pelting was not an ordinary crime; he said that it may kill people, create an atmosphere of terror and chaos and disrupt law and order.
His statement comes in the wake of recent incidents of stone-pelting which occurred during rallies called by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to fetch donations for the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. The rallies passed through Muslim-dominated areas of Ujjain and Indore, causing much disaffection.
On December 25 and December 29, clashes broke out in Ujjain's Begum Bagh and Indore's Chandan Kheri (60 kms from Indore) where stones were hurled from both sides during clashes, causing damage to public property and life.
After the incident, a total of 18 people were arrested in Ujjain while the National Security Act was invoked against ten people. In Indore's Chandan Kheri, 27 villagers have been arrested and were sent to jail for pelting stones.
To clamp down on such incidents, the state needs a strict law, the CM said. “Until now stone pelting was a small offence, but we are bringing in a law to have stringent penalties,” Chouhan said.
Spelling out details of the new law, he said that it was not just about stone pelting, but added that “miscreants” cause damage to public property, resort to arson and damage private property, burning down homes and shops.
“If someone voices their issues peacefully then democracy prevails, but no one can be given permission to damage public property...those damaging public property will not only face stringent punishment but will also have to pay for damage to public property,” he said.
As of now incidents of stone-pelting are covered under Section 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code, but with the addition of new provisions, the accused will be booked under the same section with additional sections to attach their property to pay for the loss.
If the need arises their property will be auctioned to pay for the damage caused. Similarly, in case someone's private property has been damaged, the person causing the damage will have to pay for the losses suffered by the individual, he added.
“I have given instructions to formulate these laws and work on it has begun,” said Chouhan.
UP passed similar laws last November after the anti-CAA/NRC protests broke out and reports of alleged stone pelting and damage to public property came to light.