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New legislation against communal violence: PM

The PM said the government will enact a comprehensive legislation to tackle all aspects of communal violence.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 14:25 IST

The government will enact a comprehensive legislation to tackle all aspects of communal violence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in New Delhi on Thursday.

Addressing the conference of the State Minorities Commissions in New Delhi, the prime minister said his United Progressive Alliance government was "carefully considering" suggestions from the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the issue.

He said minorities should get a fair share in government and private sector jobs and Muslim girls should get priority in professional education—including medical and engineering courses.

"It is essential that communal peace and harmony should be maintained and the minorities get a fair share in central and state government jobs and in private sector," he said.

Interestingly, there was no reference to the private sector in the printed speech distributed to the media.

There should be "concrete schemes for setting up of secondary and higher secondary schools in the blocks and districts having predominantly Muslim population" to ensure that girls from the community are educated, the prime minister added.

"Widening of access of the Muslim girls in professional education, particularly medical and engineering courses should be priority area of educational programmes."

At the function, attended by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh and Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay, the prime minister announced that the bill to provide constitutional status for the NCM would be taken up in Parliament's winter session beginning Nov 22.

Manmohan Singh—the first prime minister to address the State Minorities Commissions in 28 years—said his government would deal firmly with those who create communal disharmony.

In an apparent reference to media reports about the Gujarat government's failure to rehabilitate the victims of the 2002 sectarian violence, Manmohan Singh said: "Those who are affected by communal riots must be provided with effective relief and rehabilitation assistance. There should be regular monitoring about the effectiveness and adequacy of such assistance."

He also pointed out that "available evidence does not inspire confidence that the benefits of these schemes have flowed equitably to the eligible sections amongst the minorities".

The prime minister said "India must remain a nation where pluralism and socio-religious variety are respected."

"This nation does not belong to any single race, least of all to any group of religious extremists. It belongs to a mosaic of religiously, linguistically and culturally varied communties."