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Rituparna Pegu’s daylight murder in Guwahati raises ‘lynching’ concerns

Rituparna Pegu, a 26-year-old was killed in broad daylight in the vicinity of Noonmati, Guwahati, Assam. Following this, there has been an uproar on social media over graphic pictures of the murder. The scene of a desperate wife, with a 7 months baby going about the area to enquire about her husband in a desperate “emotional” state has enraged the civil society..

The incident took place at a store called Armand Home Furnishing, situated in Noonmati.

Taking stock of the matter, the Noonmati PS has arrested 5 persons, name Hussain Ali, Dulal Ali, Ibrahim Ali, Manuwara Khatun and Arman Ali charged with murder. A case vide Noonmati PS C/no. 294/20 u/s 147/148/149/302 IPC registered and the investigation is on.

The IPC 147, 148, 149 which includes the word riot has confused the people and as such, they have alleged a bigger motive behind the killing. Due to the sensitivity of the issue, Inside Northeast spoke to Police Commissioner Munna Gupta. He said, “the aforementioned IPC along with murder has been charged due to unlawful assembly which is a nature of these cases”. On the concerns of a bigger agenda, he said, “as per investigation its a spontaneous case over an individual argument”.

Inside Northeast then approached a local shop owner in the area, who corroborated the findings of the police. He said, “they argued over sitting on a chair and that led to an argument. After which, the other party called his family members to attack Rituparna Pegu with a knife and rod”.

Following the arrest, the locals have gheraoed the shop and one of the family members has demanded “fast-track court enquiry for justice”.

Beyond the issue

The relatives have evoked the recent murder cases of Sanatan Deka in Hajo and Debashish Gogoi in Mariani, Jorhat along with the lynching cases of Abhi-Neel. These cases have a shared commonality of a group attack and “unlawful assembly”. Although Abhi-Neel was an out and out lynching, the other attacks were also done by groups. With special emphasis on Abhi-Neel case, which now languishes in the judiciary, the relatives of Rituparna Pegu too worry the similar fate.

Although this case can’t be stated as lynching, the Assam govt has yet not made a lynching policy-based on the SC 2018 notification. Manipur has already made which now awaits presidential nod. As such, people utilised the loophole of the mob to inflict these killings.

Also read: Maguri beel in Assam faces endgame after Baghjan blast

The Manipur Law has defined mob lynchings as “any act or series of acts of violence or aiding, abetting such act/acts thereof, whether spontaneous or planned, by a mob on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, language, dietary practices, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ethnicity or any other related grounds.” The word spontaneous here is important. Wasn’t the Noonmati case a spontaneous response?

“Lynching is an affront to the rule of law and to the exalted values of the Constitution itself”, the SC has strongly worded this but so far there have been no intentions shown by the Centre, which has been lethargic on this issue that certainly has not helped any of the parties concern.

Since there’s no anti-lynching law, it is difficult to determine which stroke killed a person. This is the loophole, mobs use as they believe they can get away if a bigger crowd is involved.

Now, the queston, will the state govt take stock of these systematic attacks?

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