Faced with intense criticism and strictures from the apex court, the Gujarat government has decided to make mob lynching a “serious offence” punishable with imprisonment for three years.

Though Gujarat has witnessed fewer mob lynching cases leading to deaths than in other BJP-ruled states, Dalits and Muslims here remain in perpetual fear while transporting cattle for legitimate purposes.

Even an official consignment of cattle for the Animal Husbandry department of the Tamil Nadu government could pass through Gujarat only after a written request from its police chief to provide protection to the trucks, its crew and the staff accompanying them.

Mob lynching in Gujarat now on would be punishable under Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that pertains to “Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.

Commissioners of Police and Superintendents of Police (SPs) in the districts would be the nodal officers for mob lynching cases in their jurisdiction, said a Gujarat government notification.

Spreading fake news on social media or other channels, provocative speeches or objectionable literature and writings that could hurt sentiments would also be covered under the provisions of the same Section 153 (A) of the IPC.

Though cow vigilantism has grown in many BJP-ruled states since 2014, the saffron activists in Gujarat remain inactive whenever cows die by the dozens minutes after munching grass sent across by businessmen who often clean up the additional vacant plots adjacent to their chemical units in the industrial estates.

Cow vigilantes in Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have slayed humans merely on suspicion of one cow being harmed, but their counterparts in Gujarat do not raise a little finger when dozens of cattle-heads die due to feeding on plastic or toxic grass.