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State to bring in bill to check lynching incidents

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government is all set to introduce a bill in the ongoing monsoon session of the state Assembly to curb incidents of mob assault and lynching.

The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, not only makes provisions for punishment in case of mob lynching but also makes arrangement for compensation and medical assistance to the victim.

The Bill proposes punishment of life term rigorous imprisonment and a fine between 1 lakh to 5 lakh in case of death of the victim.

If the victim suffers grievous injury, the punishment will be up to ten years of rigorous imprisonment coupled with a fine ranging from Rs 25,000 three lakh.

In case of minor injury, the offender will get imprisonment upto three years in addition to a fine that may extend upto one lakh.

The law further makes provisions of punishment for people disseminating offensive material or instigating a hostile environment.

The new Bill says that if anyone is found guilty of assisting, preventing or interfering into the arrest of the accused, the person will be punished with an imprisonment which may extend up to three years with a fine up to one lakh.

The new law proposes punishment of imprisonment for one year and fine of 50,000 for publishing, communicating or disseminating offensive material by any method physical or electronic.

The Bill further directs the officer-in-charge of the police stations to identify vulnerable zones and take all reasonable steps to prevent any kind of incident of mob-lynching.

According to the Bill, the Director General of Police will appoint a co-ordinator not below the level of Inspector General (IG) and in case of Kolkata, the police commissioner will appoint a nodal officer not below the level of Additional Commissioner of Police, who will act as a nodal officer, to monitor and take measures to prevent incidents of lynching in the state and Kolkata, respectively.

They will hold regular meetings with the concerned officers and keep a strict monitoring on the social media postings to anticipate and prevent any kind of incitement.

"Our Chief Minister is keen to stop any kind of mob-violence leading to mob-lynching and so the Bill will be tabled likely on Thursday or Friday," a TMC MLA said after the Bill was circulated among the MLAs in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

The Bill further states that the state government will also provide legal assistance to the victim and the person can choose any advocate from those enrolled in the legal aid panel under the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987.

The state will also provide free medical treatment to the victim and provide compensation as per the Compensation Scheme.

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