Communal Violence Bill can be a disaster for India

Communal Violence Bill can be a disaster for India

Arindam Chaudhry

The road to hell is almost always paved with noble intentions. In the Indian democracy, this has been proven true a countless number of times. I am afraid we shall be headed yet again towards hellish times if a new policy that is being currently debated manages to become law, thanks to the super secular denizens of India whose intensity and range of noble intentions usually matches the mayhem that the same noble intentions often trigger.

I am talking about the well intentioned economists, sociologists, activists and assorted jholawala types who are convinced that it is their divine right to advice the UPA regime on all sorts of policy issues. Right at the top of this pyramid of do-gooders is the National Advisory Council (NAC) which is headed by Sonia Gandhi. Virtually all the members of NAC have impeccable records and reputations when it comes to their commitment towards the aam aadmi of India. Let me also be very clear in stating that a lot of credit for path breaking policy changes like the Right to Information Act, the NREGA and the Right to Education Act should go to the NAC. It is also wonderful to see members of the NAC valiantly battle it out against a callous, insensitive and cruel government when it comes to implementing the Right to Food Act.

In each of these above mentioned cases, the men and women with noble intentions have sought to protect and defend the rights of victims – usually the poor and the downtrodden of India who get only lip service from the government. And now, this group of people has set out to protect and defend the rights of another set of victims – I am talking about the victims of communal riots and violence. Nobody will dispute the fact that communal riots have been a blot on the Indian democracy. Similarly, nobody will dispute the fact that those have usually been the minorities who have borne the brunt of communal violence, even though provocation often comes from both sides of the divide.

The 2002 riots of Gujarat and the 2008 riots of Orissa are often cited as classic examples of how communal violence makes hapless victims out of minorities. In Gujarat, it was Muslims; and in Orissa, it was Christians. So to continue with their noble mission to protect and defend victims, members of the NAC have given the green signal to the Communal Violence Bill – officially labelled as the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill – that seeks to protect minorities from murder, mayhem and worse during communal riots.

When I read newspaper reports about this proposed law and the objections raised by politicians like Arun Jaitley, my first reaction was that the BJP was probably trying to play the Hindutva card. But I was speechless with shock when I actually managed to go through some provisions and clauses of the Bill.

Most newspapers, magazines and TV channels have been politically correct and have sheepishly and squeamishly reported about the problems with the Draft Bill. But I have never believed in being politically correct. And so, let me say in plain words what the implications of the proposed law are.

If this Draft Bill becomes law, it will become Constitutionally accepted that only Hindus cause riots; and that Muslims, Christians and other minorities can never be held responsible for riots because the definition of the term ‘group’, which is the backbone of this Draft Bill, is made totally in such a manner that the majority, that is the Hindus, will be at the receiving end of the stick.


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