NAC's idea of Minorities is irrelevant and - dangerous

Let us look at some provisions of  the draft Communal Violence bill.

Perhaps the most startling  provision relates to Rape. When a Hindu rapes a Minority group girl it is an  offense but not the other way round. Can the suffering of a rape victim be  different?

The draft bill assumes that only the  Majority indulges in hate propaganda, starts communal riots and is thus  punishable. Also identical offenses by the minorities and proselytization are not deemed to be an offense.  

Further, the draft bill does not  clarify if violence by one minority against another is covered under it. Would  those Muslims in Kerala, who chopped off the hand of Christian Prof T.J.Joseph in  2010 AND those Christians (as per charge sheet filed Fr Thomas Kottor, Fr Jose  Puthrukayil and Sister Sephy in that order) involved in the rape of Sister  Abhaya, again in Kerala, be said to have committed an offense under draft bill?

In 1984, Congress party workers massacred  thousands of Sikhs in Delhi, not as Hindus or Muslims but as members of the  party. Since Sikhs are now considered a minority, a similar massacre and  Congress party members would be implicated under this draft bill. The provisions  of this bill could also be used to get rid of the BJP/RSS through backdoor methods  and dismiss democratically elected non-Congress state governments. It is a tool  to end all major opposition to the Congress.

The first phase of violence in  December 1992 started as a Muslim reaction to the demolition of the Babri  Masjid. In order to maintain law and order Mumbai police took strong action  during which both Muslims and policemen were killed. The bill needs to clarify  that if police took action in a similar situation, which resulted in the death  of members of the minority group, would they have committed an offense under  this bill?

The second phase of Mumbai riots  erupted in January 1993 after six Mathadi workers (work in docks) were killed  by Muslims. Ditto is the case of kar sewaks at Godhra. Would this killing be an  offense under draft bill?

Media reports state that Muslims responsible  for July 2006 train bombings and bomb blasts in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad sought  to justify the blasts as revenge for 2002 Gujarat riots. (250 Hindus died in  these riots).

Media highlights only minority  community sufferings – only recognizes that minorities can want to take  revenge. It forgets that revenge is a human trait and being Hindu does not mean  it does not get to them.

If the Kashmiri Pandits and  suffering Hindu Mumbaikars were indoctrinated with a similar feeling of revenge  and organized bomb blast would it be an offense under the draft bill?

Violence can take various forms  physical, emotional and psychological.

It also includes hate propaganda.  Suppose Hindus were, like Muslims and Christians, to state that their religion  is the only way to God and aggressively seek to convert members of the Minority  group would it be an offense under draft bill?

Misrepresenting the doctrine  creed of Sanatana Dharma is violence. Consistently criticizing idol worship  without explaining the spiritual significance is violence. So also attempting  to convert a person by ridiculing his culture, tradition and Gods is violence.  Mythology exists in every religion and is not exclusive to Hinduism alone. Thus,  misrepresentation of another religion, conversion and unsubstantiated criticism  should be covered by the provisions of this bill.

Further circulation of hate  literature against non-believers is an act of violence. ‘During Kumb Mela 2007  Gospel for Asia, a Texas based organization, distributed abusive materials  which created tension’. (Breaking India by R Malhotra and A Neelakandan The draft bill states  that only when hate literature is circulated against the minority group is it  an offense.  

Note that in 2008-09 US/UK/Germany  remitted Rs 101 crs towards publication and distribution of religious  literature. 

Under this bill, dealing with any  law and order problem that arises from communal trouble will become the  responsibility of the Central government. The government is already overburdened  and unable to fulfill its responsibilities yet it wants to usurp the  responsibility of law and order which falls under the domain of the  States.

The UPA should learn from the  past and stop emulating British colonial strategy of using religion/caste to  divide the country as a means to retain political power. Mixing of religion and  politics in Punjab resulted in Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination. During the  Cold War era the U.S. used Al-Qaeda to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.  The same Al Qaeda was responsible for September 11 in which thousands died. For  over twenty five years Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of state  policy against India and is today a victim of the terror infrastructure created  by it.  

India must get rid of Western  concepts like Minority/Majority and imbibe the thought behind the Indian  greeting of Namaste. It means I bow to you, negates or reduces one’s ego in the  presence of another. The spiritual meaning is, the divinity in me is what is in  you. It is also a way of accepting the equal validity of other spiritual paths  and religions.  

Can there be a better way to  treat all citizens equally. It would unite 110 crore Indians and help her  leapfrog to the next level of development.  

The author is a freelance  journalist and founder

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