Examining Ethics behind Communal Violence Bill

Addressing the 15th National Integration council meeting, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “Members of this council have played an active role in ensuring that people respond with maturity to developments that may otherwise flare up communal tempers. Nevertheless we need to maintain a continuous vigil in this regard, we also need to recognize that members of the minority communities often have a perception of being unfairly dealt by law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of unfortunate incidents. While law must take its own course, we need to ensure that our investigating agencies are free from biases and prejudices. “That was the portion of the Prime Minister’s speech in NIC where, prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to justice and Reparation) Bill, 2011 was on top of the agenda. He did not touched finer prints of the Bill, he failed to pronounce that the said Bill is the urgent need in the wake of rising fascist and communal waves, he did not though it proper to clearly say that not only the Right of Life of the minorities particularly Muslims is under threat and he shied away from pointing fingers to those who have divided the nation in the name of dharma to achieve their political ends of turning secular India into a Hindu Rashtra. Many saner elements of Indian citizenry drew conclusions that the said Bill is the half hearted step taken by the Central government to contain communal violence?

The basic and important question is why we need a “Communal Violence Bill” when we have specific laws to deal with riots?

Before analyzing the need, I will cite only two black incidents which changed entire landscape of intellectuality of the leadership as well as psyche of the law enforcement agencies. Demolition of Babri Masjid (1992) and the well planned genocide of the Muslim clearly prints that the forces which are bent upon to turn the Indian Nation into Hindu Reshtra had done their home work well.  Nineteen year have passed out but the victims are still awaiting justice from the democratic government. Is this constitutional failure or bad governance or calculated conspiracy? Second glaring example is the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat (2002) which immediately reminds me about Greek anarchy. On the first anniversary of the genocide, the Statesman daily wrote in its editorial, it is since that fateful day on which 58 people were burnt alive in a train carriage of the Sabarmati express. The flames of that fire were the excuse for unleashing a pogrom in which thousands of people (read Muslims) were killed in the most brutal communal frenzy witnessed. It left lakhs homeless and helpless. It also changed people’s perception of Gujarat and Guajaratis. It now signifies a pre-planned pogrom against minorities. They are now threatening to repeat the Gujarat Experiment all over the counting” (“one year on”, the Statesmen, 28 February, 2003). This is no ordinary editorial. It has come out by a daily which has high credibility and impartiality points among national dailies. Readers should underline its warning of repeating Gujarat all over the country. During the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, the democratically elected government not only failed to protect life and property of its citizen but in fact actively involved itself in the conspiracy to wipe out a section of Indian citizenry. David Claridge observes, when a state uses violence as a means of coercing society, rather than defending it, it initiates an abuse of the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force, and if a state institutes a policy of elimination of entire section, of own society, it is clearly behaving in an unacceptable manner beyond the limits its sovereignty”. (David claridge, “State terrorism? Applying a Definitional Model”, in Alan O’ Day (ed.) Dimensions of terrorism, p. 110). Going by above analysis of terrorism, Modi government not only failed to discharge its constitutional duties but also because first terrorist government of any state. What is the result? Nine years have passed, much water has flowed down in Sabarmati River but helpless victims who are also Indian citizen are still a waiting for justice.

Above cited two examples of constitutional collapse are only to remind that such instances will again occur and it is due to this stark reality that the Communal Violence Bill should be taken up seriously by our ruling elite, intellectuals and Saner elements of the Indian society.

The issue of Communal Violence is not only complicated but also has layers like onion. Ministry of Home Affairs data (1991) states that, “even when the Muslims are a minority (12% in 1991 and 13.4% in 2001) among the violence victims 80% were Muslims.” Data of study of Nirmala Niketan college of social work wash on Mumbai riots (1992-93) are equal to the national data. As per the latest estimates, nearly 90 percent of the violence victims are Muslims. Another myth propagated by the majority communal forces is that mostly Muslims instigate violence, that they initiate it and in reaction get bashing. But most of the inquiry commission Reports, Madan commission (Bhiwandi, Jalgaon, 1970), Joseph vythyatil (Tellicherry), Jagmohen Reddy (Ahamdabad, 1969) etc tell that simple riots are parts of the plans of communal forces who get benefit after polarizing the votes. Major Inquiry Commission Reports including Srikrishra Commission (Mumbai, 1992-93) confirm the biased and prejudicial attitude of the police force. It is here that we need Communal Violence Bill to fix the responsibilities and to force the accountability among the police machinery.

Readers and intellectuals alike should also take into account another factor. When Domestic Violence Bill was conceived, it was not taken into account that sometime women also attack men, the point was that it was women who are mostly targeted, so there is a need to protect them. Likewise when all the reports, and personal experiences and government records indicate target, then also we need Communal Violence Bill.

Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence/ Access to Justice and reparations) Bill, 2001 states its purpose: “to respect, protect and fulfill the right to equality before law and equal protection of law by imposing duties on the central government and the state governments, to exercise their powers in an impartial and non-discriminatory manner to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence, against scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and religious minorities in any state and into the union of India, and linguistic minorities in any state in the union of India to thereby uphold secular democracy, to help secure fair and equal access to justice and protection to these vulnerable groups through effective provisions for investigation, prosecution and trail of offences under the Act; to provide for restorative relief and reparation, including rehabilitation and compensation to all persons affected by communal and targeted violence; and for matters connected herewith and incidental thereto.”

Read carefully word by word the purpose of the Bill and think, why should anybody be against it?

Those who have policy of concealment and conspiracy to torn apart secular fabric of the nation and make India a Hindu Rashtra may be against it but the government has responsibility to sail it through both houses of Parliament. Indian nation needs it badly more than Anna Hazare’s Jan Lok Pal Bill because ideological corruption is threatening Right to Life where as financial corruption is only strengthening parallel economy.