Communal Violence Bill is Sonia’s game plan

Communal Violence Bill is Sonia's game plan

  Communal Violence Bill is Sonia's game plan

The Muzaffarnagar riots in Uttar Pradesh which put the ruling Samajwadi Party on the defensive, and Narendra Modi’s taunt that his State had ‘passed’ him with distinction while the Congress still had to give an account of itself, have driven the latter to revive the contentious Prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence Bill, now slated to be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament. The coveted prize is the Muslim vote-bank, put into jeopardy since Deoband’s Maulana Mehmood Madani reprimanded the party for trying to instil fear of the Gujarat strongman among Muslims.

UPA’s Communal and Targeted Violence Bill is flawed, will hurt federal polity

The Bill, widely perceived as anti-Hindu, is the brainchild of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council. It has been opposed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some regional parties, and is certain to be resented by public servants who are liable to be penalised for ‘dereliction of duty’ and ‘breach of communal responsibility’ in the event of targetted violence against a community.

Muzaffarnagar can be a good benchmark against which to judge the presumptions governing the Bill. It is widely known that a young school girl was constantly harassed by a boy from the minority community. Two members of her family confronted the miscreant, who died in the altercation between them; the duo was brutally murdered in retaliation. When the police arrested seven of the alleged assailants, they were ordered by a senior Cabinet Minister of the State to release the men; this triggered a series of group meetings of both communities and the subsequent spiral of violence. How will the proposed Bill apportion guilt and deliver justice to the victims on both sides?

The original version of the Bill, drafted by UPA-I in 2005, was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its report in December 2012. Minority Affairs Minister Rehman Khan, who mooted revival of the Bill after the Muzaffarnagar riots, is reportedly busy giving it more teeth. This could intensify opposition to the Bill when finally presented in Parliament this winter.

The extant draft has been resisted because it empowers the Centre to declare an area in a State as “communally disturbed” on its own and send Central forces without the State’s request, thus compromising the federal structure of the Constitution and creating situations of potential confrontation between the Centre and the States. The BJP, Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Bahujan Samaj Party opposed this as usurping the rights of States.

A contentious provision is transfer of cases outside the State concerned for trial (as happened in Gujarat), ostensibly to protect witnesses. This could establish a dangerous precedent of presuming the entire judiciary of a State as incapable of delivering justice to victims of riots. If riots simultaneously break out in several States (as Maoist violence has affected many at the same time), how feasible will it be to shunt cases, witnesses and lawyers across the country? Who will bear the cost of this exercise? Controversies pertaining to some Gujarat riot victims (who claimed they had not been raped and did not know that this allegation figured in their sworn affidavits which were in English) establishes that it is not proper to leave witnesses and victims to the mercy of NGOs and activists who may have their own agendas, and may tutor their wards to that end.

The essential criticism of the Bill is its flawed conception, which aims to prevent and control targeted violence, including mass violence, against Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and religious and linguistic minorities in any State. Large sections of society that do not fall in any of these categories, and might fall prey to communal violence, are denied protection under this legislation.

Worse, it does not extend to Jammu & Kashmir, where Kashmiri Pandits were targetted and driven out of the Valley in the 1990s, and where Hindus of Jammu Province are now in the crosshairs of jihadi elements who want to drive them out of the entire State. This was recently witnessed in Kishtwar, where a private arms factory was generously opened to help miscreants arm themselves against an unarmed populace of anther community. If ever there was a State where citizens need the protection of such legislation, it is Jammu & Kashmir.

As rape and gang rape is one of the specific crimes listed in the Bill, it bears asking if rape will be considered as having occurred only on the statement of an alleged victim, or will have to stand medical scrutiny? Secondly, there is no recognition that a communal conflict could be triggered by the targetting of girls from the majority community, a phenomenon widely known as ‘love jihad’.

As for public servants who are to be held responsible for failing to control a situation, it needs to be mentioned that the proposed Bill offers no protection against political interference in the arrest and prosecution of culprits. The extant Bill places disproportionate emphasis upon the role of public servants (police, civil servants), who are all too often forced to abide by the whims of a political class. Nowhere does the legislation provide for punishment for political interference leading to the release of arrested persons in a riot situation.

The proposed National Authority for Communal Harmony, Justice and Reparation, if retained in the final draft, will likely be a sinecure for unelectable politicians and other cronies of the ruling dispensation. The Authority seems to duplicate the functions of the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Minorities, National Commission for Women, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. A six year term for the Members, along with attendant permanent bureaucracy, seems an entirely avoidable drain on the exchequer in an era of economic meltdown.

The draft proposes to make all offences committed under the Act as cognizable and non-bailable. This is not objectionable in itself, except for the fact that political interference (as seen in Muzaffarnagar) could ensure arrests from a single community, which may even be the victim/aggrieved community. And if culprits who are arrested are promptly released due to political interference, such persons will roam free with impunity throughout the trial and prosecution of the case, and will have ample freedom to tamper with or intimidate witnesses. The whole legislation is thus flawed in conception and certain to be unfair in implementation.

The proposed National Authority / State Authority has been given the power to order further investigation or re-investigation of cases deemed not to have been carried out in a fair, impartial or unbiased manner. But under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the power to order re-investigation is vested only in a competent court, and further investigations also needs court permission. Clearly, the UPA is trying to make a mockery of the established law of the land for petty political gains.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are the author's personal opinions. Information, facts or opinions shared by the Author do not reflect the views of Niti Central and Niti Central is not responsible or liable for the same. The Author is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

  • Dr. S. K. Tomer

    We should have anti congress bill, and most of our problem will be solved.

  • Nitin Nimkar

    This UPA government is anti India and an internal sabotage. First they ruined the economy, that was in healthy shape in 2004, with their mindless policies and corruption. Then in the name of poor, they brought Food Security Bill when India can not afford it and recipe for dooming the economy. Now Sonia is bringing this communal violence bill against Majority community. On LOC Pakistan and China have become aggressive when India’s economy is at the lowest. Are these coincidences. I do not think so. It is a planned strategy? Can somebody elaborate us, on what Sonia has done good for this country since 2004?

  • Dabangg Hindu

    Indian Muslims must come to mainstream from their self imposed alienation and exile. They must remove congress and all other Muslim and regional parties who champion their causes only on speech but done nothing for Muslims in the last 67 years.They had made Muslims as sacrificial goat in last 67 years after partition. Still they use them as vote banks but never cared to do anything for them. Duration of 67 years is not a joke or a small time to achieve any goal, if they would have initiated any fruitful action. They must be prepared to assimilate with Hindus who have accepted them as their brothers in development. No Muslims country had allowed so many facilities to Hindus in their country as Hindu majority India has done so with the minority muslims.TV, Films, Theatre has maximum of Muslim faith actors and actresses. Our army is secular where Muslims and Christians get the same rank and file as of a Hindu. In administration they are in high pedestals. In education sectors they also created their name and fame by their highest quality. But still they think that they are minorities. If they thinks themselves in negative way, they would remain negative. They need to get out of their ghettoes, shells and became partners in progress in India. Their motherland is India and they can’t go elsewhere and India also could not remain as a country without them. But they must have to abandon their negative attitude and relinquish vote bank mentality. They must come out of their self imposed exile and built a new India. If Muslims would think themselves as citizens of India they would progress and develop. They must have to remove their negative mentality and root out their low confidence. In many cases a few youths from Muslims clan get brainwashed by the propaganda by Jehadi groups,Pakistan army,ISI and Dawood to wage war on India and kill innocents but they should think that they are doing more harm to their clan and religion.They are doing harm to India who has given them all and everything. It is their foremost duty to come out of their cocoons and built a super power India. Many Muslims were presidents of India in past like F.A.Ahmed,Dr. APJ Abul Kalam as president of India.Now our Vice president is also a Muslim scholar. Many scientists are from Islam and many are in the fields of journalism. We are proud to have M.J.Akber as a great editor. We are having Dillip kumar and Shahrukh khan,Amir Khan,Salman khan,Waheeda rahman,meena kumari,Nargis as actresses & actors.India is a mixture of hindu islam tahzib and all should vow to remove communalism from their minds. If Muslims would abdicate their so-professed anti Hindu stand they would be great achievers. CONGRESS, NCP, RJD, SP, BSP, TMC, LJP have used them as toilet papers. We hope they wud assimilate with Hindu mainstream and build a new India free from hunger,corruption,neglect,terrorism and also develop themselves as a patriot Indian.

  • S. Rana

    Sonia is most cunning and cheater character of Indian politics! Look her at advisory legislative commission! All are Christian fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists or Hindu namdhari super anti Hindu people! Sonia urf Mano is determined to finish Hindus from only Hindu land of the world and our selfish Hindu goons join her wagon. Diggi, Lalu, Mulayam, Chiddu, Mishra…you name it and all are gaddars to this nation! They betrayed the nation and working only for Mano! Hy Muslim brothers, do you think with the help of Sonia can you finish Hindus? Are you willing to do it? Do you want to keep your aggressiveness forever to hurt Hindus pride and feelings? If you follow her and promote her, the ultimate result will be disaster! Hindus are not going to see to be destroyed by this cunning lady! They are going to rise, going to be united and there will be bloodshed! So, it is better to live together and listen Hindus too! Whatever Congress brands Hindus and their institutions, Hindus are not going to believe and follow it! She wanted to suppress Hindus and so the most terrorized legislation she and only she wanted to imposed upon Hindus! It is better that Hindus and Muslims come together and learn to live together and respect each other’s opinions. For this it becomes very important that this lady should be thrown out of the power! Let us go for Modi and she will see her fate!

  • Jitendra Desai

    This proves that Congress is left with only hopes of Muslim votes.It has given up on majority[Hindus] votes.No sane political party can propose such an atrocity on majority community.Congress leadership is bent upon committing suicide.

  • Sudhir Akondi

    Everybody knows that a communal violence is triggered by an ‘incident’. Nip the incident in the bud with a vigilant policing system in place, punish the culprits and that’s it. Ain’t that simple enough?

  • Vijay

    The bill itself does not sound so bad. A government like the one in UP will most likely be inneffective against stopping riots. Central government stepping in would usually be a good thing.

    The problem is with Indian politics, and therefore ultimately with India itself. There are several reasons why every bill, every act becomes part of a scheme to gain votes.

    (1.) As little as 2 or 3 percent of the vote is enough to win handsomely in many elections.
    (2). Indian electorate is extremely divided along caste and religious lines.
    (3.) This causes votebank politics to be advantageous, since the crucial 2 or 3 percent can be supplied from one or a few unified groups such as Muslims or Dalits.
    (4.) Nationalism is not strong in rural areas.

    Therefore politics becomes reduced to desperate attempts to woo certain sections of the electorate. Governance becomes a non issue. Nation itself becomes unimportant. Elections lose meaning. National government loses meaning, because in a country where nationalism is almost non existent, there is no nation to be held accountable to – only divided castes and religions.

    So what would usually be a positive development in a healthy democracy becomes a potential danger in a dysfunctional one. So the communal violence bill, by its very wording, is a clear example of political opportunism.

  • Vasant

    The Congress has become very desparate and does not know what to do to get votes.

  • M Patel

    Facts about Communal Violence Bill (CVB) a.k.a Anti-Hindu Blasphemy Bill (AHBB):
    1) Only a person belonging to majority community can be booked under draconian provision of AHBB. Under no circumstances AHBB will apply to minority.
    2) All verbal or written attack on Hinduism are allowed under free-speech but exact same attack on non-hindu religion means jail time under draconian AHBB.
    3) In a group clash, AHBB is explicitly anti-majority, and automatically assumes guilt regardless of who is attacker and defender. For example, Had Godhra train passengers successfully repealed the attack and injured few attackers then event would be dubbed as group clash and Passengers would have draconian AHBB slapped on their wrist.

    Many aspects of India’s AHBB are worse than Pakistan and other islamic countries blasphemy laws.

    In reality, AHBB is both, Anti-Hindu and Blasphemy law. So please call it “Anti-Hindu Blasphemy Bill”. If we can popularize the term “Anti-Hindu Blasphemy Bill” then half the battle is won.

  • K.Ramani

    Congress rule reminds me of Emperor Auragzeb’s rule who was against majority Hindus.