With BJP threatening to launch a campaign opposing the NAC's communal violence bill as ‘minority appeasement’, a key member of the working group defended the draft saying the proposals are based on experience — more so in BJP states such as Gujarat and Orissa (in alliance BJD).
“Whenever there was organised communal violence, it was against the minorities by the majority in that state. Our proposals are based on dominant experiences of 2002 Gujarat riots and 2008 riots of Kandhamal apart from those like Sikh and Bhagalpur riots,” the National Advisory Council member told HT.
But an unperturbed BJP, sensing opportunity to reconsolidate its majority vote bank lately drifting away, said it would oppose the bill ‘seeking to punish citizens based on their birth’ (see box).
The issue could evolve into a new political battle between the Congress and the BJP — brining religion to the fore. The Congress came in defence of the NAC draft stating objections could be addressed at Parliamentary stage. After the 2G, CWG and Adarsh mess, the opposition believes the ‘communal bill’ provides much ammunition to attack the UPA government.
“The bill is tailor-made based on myopic experience … in place of establishing truth, the bill fixes culpability on person from a majority community,” Nirmala Sitharaman, national spokesperson, BJP told HT. “We are planning the way to take the campaign further,” she said.
On Thursday BJP leader Arun Jaitley said: “The bill presumes that communal trouble is created only by the majority members and never by minority community … offences committed by minority against the majority are not deemed offences at all.”
Even as the NAC member stated the intention of the bill as to correct 'the system biased against the minorities in the country, while existing provisions of IPC are working to satisfaction of the majority' the BJP states are set to oppose the bill on law and order — a State subject.
Proposing a national authority to monitor communal events, the NAC bill makes some cross-references to constitutional provisions like Article 355 'which can be invoked in case of organised communal violence leading to internal disturbance'.
According Constitutional expert, states could object to a bill, which they perceive as intruding their jurisdiction. “They can approach a court of law, if the bill is made a law,” Subhash Kashyap said.
The Goods and Services Tax - a new system of tax collection - which the Centre wants to bring is stalled given opposition from the BJP-ruled states.
The highly sensitive communal violence bill was introduced in Parliament in 2005 and was referred to a standing committee.
The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 of NAC was put for debate on panel's website.
The objection raised is to Section 3 (e) where a group - whose rights the bill seeks to protect - is defined as a religious or linguistic minority in any State in the Union of India...