Preventing communal crimes

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India is a country of diversity. People belonging to various religions, having different cultures and speaking various languages, live together. Very good co-ordination is required to have unity in diversity and have peace in the country. But, this has not always been the case.

Our society has been scarred by communal violence, multiple times. It has been a major peace-breaker in India.  Destruction in the name of religion, caste or creed have posed a threat to the integrity of the country. Such violence attacks the very idea of secularism, in India. This has happened because the state hasn’t been able to implement  strict rules against such criminality. Given this, the reworked Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill needs to be welcomed.

The Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council (NAC) has been asked to revise the proposed Communal Violence Bill by taking into consideration the concerns of religious minorities. The Bill was originally drafted in 2005 (after the 2004 elections) keeping in  view  the Gujarat riots of 2002. The law ministry has completely re-written the widely criticized draft, prepared by the Home Ministry. The Bill was criticized for being too weak, in terms of content and also for its deterrent value. The current Bill has incorporated most of the demands made by the activists.

The Bill has provisions ranging from empowering victims to stringent punishment for officials guilty of inaction or culpability, in communal violence. Another controversial clause of this Bill is that it would allow the central government to declare an area in the state as “communally disturbed”, which would bring the state government under the scanner. With this Bill, which is likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of  Parliament,  there finally might be hope for a strong legislation, to deal with communal violence.

The strongest aspect of the Bill is that it puts the power to deal with communal violence in states, on the Centre. This minimizes the scope of the State and the Centre passing the buck, while the innocent people suffer at the hands of mobs. Another noteworthy aspect is that it holds the public servants and officers accountable. From earlier experiences we all know that safety and protection was denied to the victims, in most cases, because the authorities shielded the trigger-men or refused to work to bring the criminals, to book.

We are in a phase of development but we still have major issues, within the society, that are stopping our growth. With riots in the name of religion, caste or creed we are adversely being affected. It causes huge damage to society, both socially and economically.

It is high time that we revise our constitution, have stricter rules which are fully implemented and don’t just remain in the books. Stricter laws will surely help to stop such incidents and also bring justice to the victims. It is time that we had a wider social transformation.

Lipi Bharadwaj

Image Source: [http://missivesfrommarx.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/riots.jpg]

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