Do we need “Anna Hazare kind of campaigns” to see Communal Violence Bill through?

December 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Campaigns, Government, National, newsletter-lead

Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare

December 4, 2011: At the recently concluded meet of National Integration Council (NIC) the discussions on The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparation) Bill loomed large. Not too many members of the council were seen speaking in favour of the bill, resentment of all political parties were out in the open, the credibility of ruling alliance was in tatteres as the partners in governance were not generous on numerous issues with the proposed draft. The unfortunate part was the treasury benches kept mute while most of the opposition leaders tore apart the proposed draft with criticism. The opposition’s disapproval was more out of prejudice and misconceptions rather than out of what the Bill contains and intends to put right.

The communal forces aiming for a Hindu Rashtra often spread venom against the religious minorities creating a sense of insecurity with the majority community, consequently aggravating a communal rift between two co-existent peaceful neighbors. The Catastrophe of partition should be etched in the moral values of the sub-continent; lessons should be learnt from the horrors of sectarian politics and communal propaganda from either side.

Post Independence, the organizations which kept aloof from the mainstream struggle for independence and were responsible for murdering Mahatma Gandhi, actively indulged into spreading hatred towards religious minorities (Muslims), the Muslims were often cornered into throwing the first stone, which was then used as a pretext for unleashing violence against them. Thus initiation and facilitation of the communal politics against religious minorities came into existence. Communal politics with communal propaganda gradually became somewhat the “social common sense” of the majority community against Muslims in the country. Regrettably most of the state institutions are influenced by the infectious communal prejudice, the police in particular have become the tool for the biased attribution towards Muslims, who all remained vulnerable and the nastiest affected during any violence.

Successive governments have set up various commissions to secure this objective— commission for minorities, for preventing atrocities against SC/STs, for protecting human rights and women’s rights. But most of them have been toothless and have failed to prevent violence and protect the vulnerable groups from systematic and targeted violence. While Gujarat provides one example, the violence unleashed against Christian tribals in Kandhamal, Odisha is another example. The continuous violence against tribals in the Northeast by armed forces, and against Dalits by upper castes in almost every state cannot be ignored. The history of post-independence India is strewn with numerous cases where the ruling governments and the commissions constituted by it have failed in their duty to protect these groups.

Almost all the fact finding inquiry commissions constituted after every untoward incident reveals that the most of the spontaneously-looking riots are always part of larger conspiracies, a systematized plan of the communal forces. The reports further make public that the targeted violence are for political goals duly assisted by the attitude of the political leadership which would otherwise be impossible without the cordial help from the incumbent bureaucrats and forces. And it fetches no brownies in guessing that, it’s the rightwing politicians who then benefit from the same by polarizing the majority community votes in their favour.

And most predictably the proposed draft has been dubbed as ‘anti-majority’ by the BJP and has been criticized as a kneejerk response to the Gujarat violence of 2002-03. They also fear that it may alter the federal structure and adversely impact the autonomy of the states. But protection of minorities and vulnerable groups like tribals and Dalits is well within the Constitutional scheme. Hence, any provision to protect the secular fabric of the nation and the right of vulnerable groups to live in peace and harmony cannot be dubbed as an ‘anti-majority’ measure.

The picture is very complicated and muddled but the undertones are very clear, about this opposition! It’s because the Hindutva forces are opposed to any affirmative action where the weaker section of the society be it the minorities, schedule caste or OBC is identified and given protection. The main opposition party has openly opposed the bill because of its vested interests attached, as it wants to promote their kind of political agenda with the continuation of existing political pattern of discrimination and biasness against religious minorities and other weaker & oppressed sections of the society.

Mahatma Gandhi, who symbolized the animosity to communal politics, laid down his life opposing it, his sacrifice must not go in vain. Hence if the intension of the ruling government is sanctimonious, it is unusual as to why the ruling party or its allies are not sticking its neck out to bring peace and prevent violence through this bill by suitable agreement and an appropriate debate in parliament. Therefore whatever the outcome be, it’s bound to have an adverse effect on the government’s sincerity and secular credentials.

– aziz a. mubaraki

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