M A I N   N E W S

Major rift emerges over communal violence Bill
* It’s dangerous & against majority, says BJP; Trinamool agrees
* Mamata, Modi, Nitish, Maya, Jaya, Chandy skip NIC meet
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, September 10
The National Integration Council (NIC) summoned specially today to deliberate the proposed Communal Violence Bill stood sharply divided, with the BJP leading the Opposition to oppose the Bill with some UPA partners like Trinamool Congress following suit.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj who along with her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley attended the council meeting, said later, “This is a dangerous Bill. It ceases to treat people as citizens and instead divides all of them into minority and majority everywhere. There is no homogeneity here. There are regions where Muslims or Christians or even Sikhs are in a majority. This Bill presupposes that all minorities are victims all the time and the majority anywhere is out to commit atrocity on the minority.” Apprehensive that the Bill also vests too many powers in a central authority, a travesty of the Constitution, Swaraj said that the Bill would only further aggravate the situation in the country. “Arun and I and our three Chief Ministers questioned why the NIC is meeting after a gap of three years and suggested some statutory provision to ensure that it meets at least once a year. Arun also mentioned the unsuitability of the occasion since there is no communal situation anywhere in the country at instead the country is ridden by terror and Naxal attacks,” Sushma said.

Arun Jaitley said, “The Bill will lead to disintegration of the nation and is a non-secular draft.”

Three BJP Chief Ministers — Shivraj Singh Chauhan (MP), Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (Uttarakhand) and DV Sadanand Gowda (Karnataka) — also addressed the NIC in a similar tone.

While Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar skipped the meeting, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav criticised the proposed Bill for threatening the federal arrangement.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu counterparts, Mayawati and J. Jayalalithaa, also skipped the meet. Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy was conspicuous by his absence.

Speaking for the Trinamool Congress, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi conceded that he had opposed this Bill in its present form.

Mayawati sent across a written speech, which also stated that, “This is not the opportune moment to comment on the Bill.” Orissa Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik also opposed the Bill saying, “It is has some objectionable provisions which directly affect the autonomy of states.”

Meanwhile, the Left while asking the Centre to correct the anomalies about federal balance, supported the proposed Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Justice and Reparation) Bill.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said, “If the Communal Violence Bill can give teeth to the legal machinery for controlling communal violence, we should consider it.” But he qualified it saying, “The law should be restricted to communal violence and not other forms of violence.”

However, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad supported the proposed Bill wholeheartedly saying that a strong Bill to curb communal violence was needed.

Significantly, this Bill was conceived and proposed by the National Advisory Council (NAC) under the chairmanship of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who could not attend the meet because she is recovering from a recent surgery.

Later, Union Home Secretary RK Singh attempted to address the federal concerns of some Chief Ministers. “We will have a Bill that will be in consonance with the Constitution,” he said.

Bill of Contention

  • The Communal Violence Bill seeks to cover in its ambit violence against not just religious minorities, but also regional, ethnic and linguistic minorities
  • Under discussion is the draft of the NAC. It will first be sent to the Law Ministry and then to the states for an opinion before anything is finalised





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