Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Friday tabled the stringent West Bengal Prevention of Lynching Bill, 2019 in the Legislative Assembly. The tabling of the bill comes amid a spate of mob lynchings that have reported from across the country, including Bengal.

State Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee tabled the bill in the Assembly.

Supporting the bill, Congress MLA Nepal Mahato said, “Cases of lynching have increased manifolds since 2014. Some cases of lynching were related to beef too. Even the Supreme Court has taken the cognizance of the matter.”

In order to prevent mob lynchings, it proposes strict action against those found guilty of involvement in such crimes.

Under the provisions of the bill, anyone found guilty of publishing, communicating and disseminating any offensive material either physically or electronically, shall be liable to imprisonment up to one year and a fine up to Rs 50,000.

Further, any individual who is found to be involved in enforcing a hostile environment on a person or a group of persons might be jailed for up to three years. Those found to be involved in an assault or injuring a victim of mob violence shall face a jail term of three years or more.

If the incident results in the death of a victim, those responsible would face life imprisonment as well as a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

A nodal officer will also be appointed for periodic assessment of local intelligence inputs to identify potential flashpoints. The bill also mandates that lynching incidents will be investigated by an officer, not below the rank of an inspector.

While the opposition Congress has welcomed the move but cautioned against its move, the BJP has questioned the state government asking why no law has been brought to curb political killings in the state.

West Bengal follows Rajasthan in introducing an anti-mob lynching law. The western state had on August 5 passed a bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh to those convicted of mob lynching.