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Civil Society rejects Communal Violence Bill

By TCN Staff Reporter,

New Delhi: While terming it useless and draconian, members of civil society today rejected the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2009. In a press conference here at Constitutional Club, organized at the end of two-day national consultation on communal violence bill, eminent lawyers, judges and civil and human rights activists urged the government to revise the Bill taking on board the concerns related to definition of Communal Violence, Sexual Violence, Victims Rights, etc. The organizers vowed to continue lobbying at different levels to stop the present bill from being passed.

Speaking to media, Harsh Mander, former IAS and renowned social activist said, “For the prevention of communal violence, no more powers to security agencies are needed”. “I can tell you from experiences of service life, if the agencies are willing, the situation can be brought under control within hours because we have sufficient laws”, he added. However, Mr. Mander argued for a bill on relief and rehabilitation.

L-R – Shabnam Hashmi, Vrinda Grover, Farha Naqvi, Asghar Ali Er., Harsh Mandar

Shabnam Hashmi, member of National Integration Council, Govt. of India said, “The bill is not acceptable in its present form as it is not going to help the victims of communal violence in any way”. “One of the most disturbing parts of this bill is declaring an area as Communally Disturbed”, she added. Advocate Vrinda Grover of Supreme Court of India said, “Lack of accountability part is missing”. “Until accountability part is ensured, it’s not going to help”, added Grover.

Veteran social activist, Asghar Ali Engineer, who has investigated numerous cases of Communal Violence from Jabalpur to Gujarat said, “No preventive measures has been incorporated in this bill”. “This bill is only going to aggrieve the problem”, he added. Social Activist Farha Naqvi reiterated, “The proposed bill is not acceptable at al in its current form”.
The two-day national consultation on the Bill was organized by Anhad and Institute of Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution, Delhi.

Journey of Communal Violence Bill

In the wake of massacre of Gujarat, 2002, civil society started demanding for a bill on prevention, control and rehabilitation of victims of communal violence. In 2004, UPA in its Common Minimum Program promised for a comprehensive legislation on the same and in 2005, they introduced a bill in Rajya Sabha. The Bill was roundly criticized and rejected by civil society and urged for the serious as it was complete betrayal from the promise. The Bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs for its review and recommendations. But the Committee, which submitted its final report in December 2006 made no significant changes. In last months of 2009, Cabinet cleared the bill with slight changes and now planning to introduce in it coming session of the Parliament.

Grievances of Civil Society

The statement signed by Justice K K Usha, former Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, Justice Rajinder Sachchar (retd), Justice Sardar Ali (retd.), AP High Court, Harsh Mander, Prof. Rooprekaha Verma, former V C of Lucknow University, Adv. Colin Gonzalves of Supreme Court of India, Dr. Rampunyani, V. N. Rai, former DGP, UP and many others reads, “This Communal Violence Bill 2009, if passed, will not only be weak, it will be dangerous. It will not only fail to secure justice for communal crimes, but will actually strengthen the shield of protection enjoyed by those who plan and sponsor these crimes. Further, it continues to perpetuate the silence around gender-based sexual crimes”.

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