Ummid Assistant

Taj Group to train underprivileged rural youth in Maharashtra

Robotics competition for Andhra school students

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Quest for Equality, Equity and Justice: Requisites for realisation

Sunday April 21, 2013 11:13:36 PM, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Justice has been an eternal quest of human society. Need for justice is undeniable. Need to provide justice was foremost in the minds of framers of our Constitution. They beautifully incorporated this lofty goal in the Preamble to the Constitution. The Preamble not only shows that first and foremost aim of the Constitution is providing justice but also shows how this aim is to be achieved and also shows why this is necessary and what would be the end result of this lofty object.


The Preamble to the Constitution declares providing justice, ensuring liberty and equality and promoting fraternity. The object also amplifies this grand object stating that justice would encompass social, economic and political aspects and shall also ensure liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship and equality of status and of opportunity. The Preamble also sets forth promotion of fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.


The Preamble sets out the guiding purpose and principles of the Constitution. The normative framework set out in the Preamble is our guide and lack of progress in achieving the same is our problem. Quest for attaining the lofty objects set out in the Preamble to the Constitution has brought us together here.


We propose to discuss situation of our country, especially of the weaker sections and minorities, in the light of these objects. In doing so, our yardsticks are the same which have been set forth in the Preamble to the Constitution.


What is the status of social, economic and political justice? Whether we have been able to achieve liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship to all? Whether we can be certain that everyone of us has been assured equality of status and opportunity? How about the promotion of fraternity and unity and integrity of the nation?


Undoubtedly, answers to these questions are disturbing to every justice-loving person. Despite passage of more than 60 years, the dream of the framers of the Constitution looks far away from realization. The situation in our country shows that all weaker sections of our society are still far from achieving even a fraction of what we may call social, economic and political justice. Absence of justice is the cause and result of inequality of status and opportunity which makes all the liberties, fundamental rights and freedoms meaningless and hollow. Absence of justice also deprives a large segment of Indian society of basic human dignity.


Judged on the above-mentioned parameters, Muslims are the most deprived among the Indian society. Long-taunted as perception, not the reality, and used by various political parties for their narrow political ends, the fact is well-established by various studies, including the ones conducted by various government bodies, committees, commissions, etc.

Representation, or lack of it, in Parliament, is the stark symbol of the failure of Indian society to provide justice to Indian Muslim community.

While Muslims have remained under-represented in all the Lok Sabhas, present 15th Lok Sabha is one of the most non-representatives in terms of Muslim members. There are 28 Muslim MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha while there should have been 72 members in terms ratio of Muslim population in the country. There is an urgent need of electoral reforms to provide representation in this supreme body of our democracy. Importance of such representation needs no emphasis.


The issues facing the community are known. They are: social and educational backwardness, political and economic deprivation, attacks on the identity and culture, discrimination in almost every sphere of life, communal violence and targeting of youth on false terror charges.

One wonders why Muslims and other weaker sections like Dalits, Tribals, etc., only become the target of draconian laws. Our experiences with TADA, POTA and, now with Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA) have been of extreme pain and anguish. The data shows that majority of the accused are Muslims, who after going through trauma and sufferings were let off due to lack of evidence.


TADA and POTA had to go because of evidence surfacing with regard to targeting of Muslims and slapping false terror cases on them. The sad part is that, this politics of targeting minority youths still continues unabated by applying UAPA which is even more draconian.


A cursory observation of this phenomenon reveals that the tactics involved in targeting of youth belonging to Muslim community and other weaker sections of Indian society has been greatly polished and refined in the last two decades.


During early nineties, Muslims and other weaker sections of the society like tribals, Dalits and other minorities, were targeted by applying infamous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (TADA). Besides being violative of the cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence, this black law  was misused on a massive scale.


Realising the dark implications for the community, All India Milli Council raised its voice on this issue and initiated a countrywide campaign in 1993 demanding its repeal. The campaign received massive public support, forcing the then P.V. Narasimha Rao government to abandon this black law by allowing it to lapse in 1994.


Immediately after the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ascent to power in 1999, insidious propaganda was unleashed against Madarsas accusing them of being “Taliban factories”, “indoctrination centres”, “shelters for terrorists”, etc. No evidence was provided to sustain any of these allegations.


Thereafter, the tactics was changed and the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) incorporating all the menacing features of the TADA was promulgated in 2001. All India Milli Council again took up cudgels and mobilized public opinion against this black law. All the non-NDA parties were approached and persuaded to oppose the POTO. The efforts were successful, the then NDA government was isolated and forced to call a joint session of Parliament to pass Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2202 (POTA) as all the non-NDA parties, including the Congress, opposed this law.


However, the NDA government, disregarding overwhelming public sentiment, the POTA was enacted. This black law was again used against Muslims and other weaker sections on a massive scale in unabashed manner.


Besides, many fake encounters were also executed. Further, no case arising out of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom was prosecuted under this law.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government repealed the POTA in 2004. However, the UPA government incorporated most of the provisions of the POTA in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 (UAPA).


It was hoped that the amended UAPA would not be used against Muslims and other weaker sections of the society as the UPA had come to power on the plank of secularism and social justice.


The more things change, the more they remain the same. Experience shows that the UAPA has also been misused on a massive scale against tribals, Muslims, Sikhs other weaker section of society.


The UAPA has been used to target educated Muslim youth and the areas having substantial Muslim population without justification. Many areas having substantial Muslim population, like Hyderabad, Malegaon, Azamgarh, Bhatkal, North Bihar, etc., have been demonized and called “Aatankgarhs” (fortresses of terrorism).


Hundreds of innocent Muslim youth have been subjected to illegal arrests, detentions, fake encounters, fabrication of evidence, media trial, etc in same manner as was the routine during the days of the TADA and the POTA.


It is significant that many of these terrorist attacks have been found to have been executed by Hindutva terror networks, nevertheless, innocent Muslim youth have been made to pay a heavy price before real culprits were found. Some of these terrorist attacks include bomb explosion at Ajmer Dargah, Makkah Masjid Hyderabad, Malegoan, Samjhota Express blast, etc. while many other incidents and attacks have not been properly investigated despite clear indications of involvement of these networks.

The modus operandi is almost on the following lines. Various law enforcement agencies keep on fabricating cases against Muslim youth alleging their involvement in alleged activities of banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). As such, continous ban on SIMI has become a tool in the hands of communal police and intelligence officials to target innocent Muslim youth.


A large number of innocent Muslim youth are implicated in these cases. These cases drag on for years. Such youth spend lengthy periods in jail, lose prospect of any government job, denied passports, etc.

Every false implication means allowing the real perpetrators to go scot-free. Such perpetrators execute further attacks. We believe that false implication of innocents also means denial of justice to the victims of terrorist attacks.


In complete disregard for justice, both for the victims of terrorist attacks and the innocent youth, communal elements in the law enforcement agencies have been pursuing their fascist agenda.


When a Muslim youth is arrested, charges of carrying out terrorist activities at various places are slapped on him without going through a fair and deeper investigation. For instance, in 1998 one Mohammad Aamir Khan, aged 18 years, was arrest in Delhi and was accused of 20 terror cases. It took 14 years to be acquitted and released from these cases. In January, 2011, he walked out of jail only to find his mother paralyzed.


One Qateel Ahmad Siddiqui of Darbhanga was killed inside Pune Jail before any of the charges being established against him. No accountability has been fixed for his illegal arrest and murder.


In another glaring instance, 70 Muslim youths were picked up and charged for carrying out Mecca Masjid blasts in 2007 at Hyderabad. After five long years, they were all acquitted and the government gave them compensation as well as character certificates.


However, after recent bomb blasts in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, many of these youth were subjected to harassment and illegal detention.


It would not be out of place to state that none of the persons belonging to Hindutva terror networks was interrogated in this connection despite involvement of these networks in past in carrying terror acts in Hyderabad.

Recent instances also include the cases of Deccan Herald journalist Mutiur Rahman Siddiqui and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, who were arrested and maligned but ultimately discharged. During their, both of them lost their jobs.


It is pertinent that Aijaz Ahmad Mirza, upon his arrest, was dismissed from DRDO and has not been reinstated despite his discharge. On the contrary, Lt. Col. Purohit, facing charges of bomb-blasts in Malegaon, continues to be in service and receive his full salary from Indian Army. This discriminatory conduct is by the organizations who are under the same Union Ministry of Defence.


In the meanwhile, many other youth continue to be under detention and suffer of the stigma of ‘terrorist’ tag. Their ultimate acquittal, after years of trauma, cannot return the youthful years wasted in the confines of the jails.


This phenomenon has put educated Muslim youth under constant fear that any of them on any day any day can be thrown behind bars under false terror charges only to be released after years, with their aspirations and dreams crashed.


For ending this phenomenon, it is necessary that Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, is repealed and suitable legislation providing for compensation for innocents incarcerated on false terror charges, prosecution of police and intelligence officials responsible for false implication of innocent Muslim youth is enacted. Further, considering the role of intelligence agencies in these frame-ups, it is also necessary that all central intelligence agencies are brought under Parliamentary control by enacting effective legislation.


Further, it is also necessary that police reforms are carried out on the basis of recommendations of Dharamvir Commission and Supreme Court directives in Prakash Singh case. As a first step, Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, which has been repeatedly used to block prosecution of police officials guilty of offences concerning violation of human rights, must be repealed immediately. Similarly, there is also urgent need to implement recommendations of Justice J.S. Varma Committee regarding sexual offences committed by security officials in so-called disturbed areas. In fact, it is long overdue that Armed Forces Special Powers Act is repealed as per recommendations of Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee.


Besides, the issue of targeting of Muslim youth, the community has been facing many other challenges. These challenges include educational and economic backwardness, political disempowerment, communal violence, lack of representation in public and organised private sector jobs, and many more.


The first and foremost document establishing these issues is the Report of the Prime Minister’s High Power Committee, headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, better known as the Sachar Committee.


The report prepared by this seven-member committee, set up by UPA-I in March 2005, established that India’s Muslim minority faces massive and appalling socio-economic deprivation. The report also showed that the Muslim community is frequently subjected to  police harassment and violence.


It would be useful to recount some of the important findings and observations of this committee to put the present situation in perspective. This is also necessary to assess the measures taken by the central government under the same UPA, in its second stint, for implementation of the recommendations this committee.


The Sachar Committee report recognized that Muslims face “deficits and deprivation in practically all dimensions” of socio-economic development. The report also showed that social deprivation of Muslims, in some measures, as a group fell below the Dalits.


The report found that the head count ratio (HCR) of poverty among Muslims was 31 percent—second only to the SC/ST communities whose HCR is 35 percent. The poverty figure among urban Muslims was higher, with 38.4 percent living in poverty, as compared with 36.4 percent of urban Dalits and Scheduled Tribes.


The report found that the share of Muslims in government jobs was just 4.9 percent. It also showed that only 4.5 percent of railway workers were Muslim, and of these, 98.7 percent occupied lower-level positions. The findings of the report found that the deprivation was appalling in the prestigious and powerful civil services with Muslims constituting just 3.2 percent.


Situation is no different in other institutions. It is even worse in judiciary-both in subordinate and higher. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that the   judiciary is the most unrepresentative state institution in the country.

The discrimination in security-related jobs -- defence, police and security forces – seems to be the most pronounced as no data about the percentage and number of Muslims employed in these services has not even been provided.


It is also a matter of public knowledge that many findings of the Sachar Committee were withheld. According to the Indian Express,  a draft of the Sachar Committee report also contained statistics establishing that Muslims were disproportionately high among the jail inmates in all parts of India. These figures were excluded from the final version of the report.


According to the Indian Express, the Sachar Committee report showed that in Maharashtra, Muslims constituted 32.4 percent out of all inmates even though Muslims were just 10.6 percent. In Gujarat, Muslims were more than a quarter of all prison inmates although their population was just 9.06 percent of the total population. In Delhi, Muslims account for 11.7 percent of the population but 29.1 percent of prison inmates.


As per the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau pertaining  to the year 2008, among the undertrial or pre-trial inmates, 22.5 percent belonged to the Muslim community, Situation is no different among the convicted prisoners. Classification of convicts showed that 18.5 percent were from the Muslim community, among the detenues, 30.3 percent were from Muslim community, and under the category of others, 45.9 percent were from Muslim community.


Muslims are only 13.4 percent of the total population of India. The high presence of Muslims in Indian prisons is a product of their miserable socio-economic condition as well systematic anti-Muslim bias present in all organs of the state machinery.


Anti-Muslim bias is substantiated by the Sachar Committee report. The report stated, “Concern was expressed over police highhandedness in dealing with Muslims. Muslims live with an inferiority complex as ‘every bearded man is considered an ISI [Pakistan’s foreign spy agency] agent’; ‘whenever any incident occurs Muslim boys are picked up by the police’ and fake encounters [between security forces and alleged Muslim terrorists] are common. In fact, people argued that police presence in Muslim localities is more common than the presence of schools, industry, public hospitals and banks. Security personnel enter Muslim houses on the slightest pretext. The plight of Muslims living in border areas is even worse as they are treated as ‘foreigners’ and are subjected to harassment by the police and administration.”


While insecurity has been forcing the Muslim community into impoverished ghettos, the administration uses this getttoisation for further neglect by depriving the Muslim dominated localities of  Water, sanitation, electricity, schools, public health facilities, banking facilities, roads and transport facilities, etc.


To make the situation worse, the unspoken housing apartheid in urban India is well known. It is very difficult for a Muslim find a house in the localities dominated by non-Muslim communities. This has contributed to ghettoisation.


The Sachar Committee report showed that getthoisation has further contributed to systematic deprivation of Muslims from institutional credit as the banks, both public and private, use the practice of identifying ‘negative geographical zones’.


Similarly, the Sachar Committee report has also brought out educational deprivation of Muslims in India. According to the report, Muslim’s less access to education has been very less as compared to other religious groups. Consequently, the literacy rate among Muslims is only 59.1 percent while the national average is 64.8 percent. School enrollment among urban Muslim boys is only 80 percent, as compared with 90 percent of SC/ST boys. Only 68 percent of Muslim girls attend schools, while the figures for Dalit girls and girls categorised as non-Dalit are 72 percent and 80 percent, respectively.


In the higher education, the Muslim participation is negligible. According to the report, Muslims constitute only 1.3 percent and 1.7 percent  only in the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), respectively.


Treatment of Urdu is another important issue that has contributed to deprivation of Muslims.  Sachar Committee Report substantiates this fact.  

Another important report on the condition of Indian Muslim community is by the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities (NCRLM), better known as Justice Ranganath Misra Commission.


The Ranganath Misra Commission was entrusted by the Government of India to suggest practical measures for the upliftment of the socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities and to include the modalities of implementation for the same.


The final report of the Ranganath Misra Commission (NCRLM) was submitted to the government in May 2007 but it was not tabled in the Parliament until it got leaked to the media. Amidst sustained pressure from Members of Parliament the NCRLM Report was finally tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday, Dec 18, 2009, more than two years after its submission.


The Ranganath Misra Commission recommended that at least 15 percent of seats in all nonminority educational institutions should be earmarked by law for the minorities as with 10 percent for the Muslims  and the remaining 5 percent for the other minorities.


The Ranganth Misra Commission also recommended earmarking of 15 percent share in all government schemes like Rural Employment Generation Programme, Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojna, Grameen Rozgar Yojna, etc. for for the minorities – with a break-up of 10 percent for the Muslims and also recommended that  15 percent of posts in all cadres and grades under the Central and State Governments should be earmarked for the minorities – with a break-up of 10 percent for the Muslims.


Another important recommendation of the Commission demanded amendment of the Para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950. This Constitutional Order deprives dalits belonging to the Muslim, Christian communities of the benefit of reservation.


The recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report (2007) for 10 percent reservation for Muslims in central and state government jobs and 6 percent within OBC quotas for Muslim OBCs, and the inclusion of Muslim and Christian dalits in the scheduled castes list, are yet to be implemented.


De-linking of religion from the discriminatory Constitutional Order has not been done despite the fact that twelve States Government and Union Territories have recommended to Union of India for granting the SC status to Muslim and Christian Dalits.


Situation has not changed even now when the government claims that the most of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee have been accepted.


Human Development Report-2011 of the Planning Commission has noted only a very minute improvement in the socio-economic status of Muslims in India.


The rate of decline in poverty has also been the slowest among the Muslim community (from 1993-4 to 2007-8): urban poverty has only declined 1.7 points, whereas for the SC/ST community urban poverty has declined by 28.2 points and 19.5 points respectively.


The most advertised programme launched by the government, ostensibly upon recommendation of the Sachar Committee report, is the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) -- in 2008. The programmed  aimed at upgrading infrastructure in 90 minority concentration districts (MCDs) where minorities comprise 25 percent or more of the population.

However, the basic flaw in the programme is that the  government failed to make Muslims a target group and brought the scheme in under the larger umbrella of “minorities. This is an open dishonesty. The Sachar Committee had recommended the Muslim community needed targeted interventions to bring it socially and economically on a par. Therefore, talking about minorities has no connection with the Sachar Committee recommendations.

Furthermore, the design, planning and implementation of this Multi-Sectoral Development Programme have been such that Muslims have been excluded from its benefits.


It is also obvious that the MSDP is flawed for the simple reason that as does not cover a large number of Muslims by concentrating only on districts which have a minority concentration. Most of the districts in these 90 MCDs have a Muslim concentration of less than 25 percent. Further, over 70 percent of Muslims live in the non-MCD districts who are completely ignored.


Another major shortcoming is that it takes the district as the unit of planning rather than villages or blocks with minority concentrations. This flaw has been exploited by biased bureaucracy in a manner that even for the small percentage of Muslims who are covered under the MSDP programme, there have not been very positive outcomes. In order  deprive Muslims of the benefits of the MSDP projects they have been located in the areas  that are away from  Muslims localities.


An important study by the Centre for Equity Studies (CES) in 2011, entitled ‘Promises to Keep’, that evaluated ‘flagship programmes’ for minority development initiated ostensibly upon the recommendations by the Sachar Committee has also exposed biased delivery mechanisms.


The CES study  selected three districts in three states -- South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Darbhanga in Bihar, and Mewat in Haryana. The study found that the Muslim community was not benefiting much as the officials excluded Muslim villages, hamlets or urban settlements in plans designed for MSDP project.


Citing Mewat district in Haryana – having a Muslim concentration of about 80 percent, the study pointed out that there were less than 5,000 Muslim students in secondary school. The study reported that a primary school located in a Muslim village found in “a dilapidated building, barren courtyard and dingy classrooms”. The lamented that the government had not spent MSDP funds to upgrade this school but the funds were spent on a neighbouring wealthier non-Muslim village. The study found that this pattern was common in many other districts their  team visited.


The study said that the Mewat case showed that even when funds do go to a district with a high concentration of Muslims, the money failed to reach the community as the biased authorities diverted funds to non-Muslim villages.


Giving another instance, the CES study found that in Darbhanga, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in 2009-10, Muslim-concentrated areas got only seven out of 66 new primary schools were opened ostensibly to enhance access for children from minority backgrounds.


Interestingly, even selection of monitors for monitoring implementation of the minorities’ welfare schemes also showed bias and discrimination. It is relevant that the central government, in 2010 appointed 90 national-level monitors to monitor implementation; they could find only seven Muslim monitors out of the 90. So much so that Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest Muslim population in the country and the largest number of minority-concentrated districts, had only one Muslim monitor.


This is despite the fact that the appointments were made to address the complaints received from the 90 minority-concentrated districts on ineffective implementation and the biased attitude of government officials.

Clearly, every attempt to address issues facing Muslim community has been defeated- by design, not by default. It is ironic that this bias was well exposed by the Sachar Committee when it talks about discrimination and practices of exclusion in government structure.


One of the major recommendations of the Sachar report pertaining to the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission, with a structure and membership along the lines of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to examine and analyse the grievances of deprived groups, and making equal opportunities a legal right, has not yet been implemented. Further, developing a ‘diversity index’, a statistical tool to measure exclusion in specific areas like education, housing, etc for using it to compare inter-institutional inadequacies and assess patterns for policy formulation for  enhancing Muslim participation in governance remain in limbo.


Similar is the fate of other minority-related schemes. The most important among  such schemes is   the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme which covers issues of education, employment, housing and credit.


This programme is clubbed with existing welfare schemes like the Indira Awas Yojna, Integrated Child Development Scheme, Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, etc. It is said that a certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas and, wherever possible, earmark 15 percent of target and outlays under these schemes to minorities.


Clearly, this suffers from the same drawbacks as the MSDP. Additionally, use of terms like “certain portion” and “wherever possible” allows ample room for perpetuation of biases and discrimination.


The National Commission for Minorities (NCM), constituted by the Government of India to monitor the development of minorities in India, has been ineffective. It has not been able to address the grievances and deprivation of the Muslim minority.


The NCM lacks both the financial and political autonomy needed for independent and effective functioning. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Human Rights Commission have more power than the NCM, and they are more independent. Reports from the NCM are not binding on the Government of India and are never tabled in Parliament.


Similarly, we see the limitations of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) in delivering its mandate. Though, MoMA has taken some important and innovative steps like identifying minority-concentration districts, launching schemes like the MSDP, scholarships for minorities, reviving the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme, etc.  However, it has failed to address the issues facing the Indian Muslim community. The major reason for this failure is lack of control over identification, formulation and delivery of the schemes and funds.


Biased and ineffective implementation of policies delivery of central schemes aimed for welfare of Muslims and other weaker sections brings forth issue of representation of Muslims and other minorities in the government bodies. However, this is not possible without their presence in the selection panels and bodies at all levels. Such institutional mechanisms, coupled with properly defined, guided and restricted discretion, are must to effectively deal with the individual biases against Muslims.


Absence of such mechanism has led to injustices against Muslims and other weaker sections. One such recent instance pertains to unjust denial of chairpersonship of the University Grants Commission to Prof. Syed E. Hasnain, despite being a Padma Awardee and having excellent academic and administrative record. Similarly, Dr. Nilaufar Kazmi was denied regular appointment to the post of secretary of the UGC despite having worked on the post for more than two years.


Neglect and mismanagement of Awqaf is another area of concern for Muslims. The approximate number of registered Waqf properties in India is around 3,00,000 and account for 4 lakh acres of land. The awqaf is the third-largest landholder after the railways and defence. Institution of Awqaf has potential to address socio-economic needs of the community. However, state of this institution itself is a great cause of concern.  Many of the prime waqf properties are under illegal occupation by various government departments and agencies. Many of the prime properties have been encroachment or illegally alienated. While retrieval of such properties has been made next to impossible, even protection of remaining properties poses a great challenge.


Apart from abysmally low on development indicators, Muslims face identity-based targeted and communal violence on a regular basis, and day-to-day discrimination in accessing rights and entitlements.


Muslims have faced communal violence since Independence. In most of these cases of communal violence, they have not been able to secure justice and reparation and the perpetrators have never been held accountable. This is mainly for the reason that existing IPC provisions have proven inadequate and there is no strong and exclusive legislation to address this violence.


Though, Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council has attempted to address these  limitations by proposing Communal  and Targeted Violence (Prevention) Bill. The bill has many positive aspects.


The proposed legislation holds public servants accountable for their negligent behaviour or willful failure in controlling riots. An officer can be prosecuted if he fails to act without adequate reason. Not only the complicit officer, his superior officer too can be punished for the omissions/commissions of his subordinate, if it can be proved that the superior had information about the situation and he failed to issue appropriate orders and directions to his subordinate.


The bill will also give due rights to victims to be heard during the trial, and make the trial procedure more flexible and victim-friendly. The bill provides for witness protection. Relief, reparation, restitution and compensation become the right of every victim of communal and targeted violence.


The bill has been opposed mainly on two grounds both of them are untenable and unfounded. The bill has been dubbed “anti-Hindu” by Hindutva groups. The claim is false. The Bill actually addresses identity-based violence against all non-dominant groups, including Muslims, in different parts of the country. This is clear from the definition of the ‘group’ in the Bill. It has been defined as religious or linguistic minorities in any State in the Union of India, and the SCs and the STs. Therefore, in addition to Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Parsis, the definition also includes Tamils in Karnataka, Biharis and UP wallas in Maharashtra, Hindi-speaking people in Northeast, etc.


The definition is wide enough to include Hindus also as a religious minority if they are non-dominant in a particular state or union territory like Punjab, Lakshadweep, and several states of the Northeast.


Even from a ‘Muslim-centric’ perspective, there is enough justification for the Bill. Several inquiry commission reports and studies establish that overwhelming majority of the victims -both in terms of lives and properties- of ‘communal riots’ have been Muslims. Many inquiry commissions have established that planners, perpetrators and beneficiaries of the violence were never brought to book despite specific indictment by various inquiry commissions. Some of the notable examples include like Justice Madon Commission on Bhiwandi riots (1970) Justice J. Narain, S.K.Ghosh and S.Q.Rizvi Commission on Jamshedpur riots (1979), Justice Ram Chandra Prasad and Justice Shamsul Hasan’s Commission on Bhagalpur riots (1989) and Justice Srikrishna Commission on Mumbai riots (1992-93).


Contrary to the contentions by its opponents, the Bill does not offend against federal structure of the country. All references to Articles 355 and 356 of the Constitution have been removed after public debate. It recognises that law and order remains entirely with the state governments. It entrusts all powers and duties of investigation, prosecution, and trial to the state governments. The appointments of authorities at the state level are in the hands of state governments.


The bill only seeks to correct institutional bias that is invariably found in the functioning of state machinery in cases of violence against minorities and Dalits so that there may be impartial enforcement of law for prevention, investigation and prosecution   of communal and targeted violence.


The Bill seeks to ensure that non-dominant group in states or union territories are provided additional protection to prevent bias in law enforcement, and seek to ensure that there is uniformity in the matters of restitution and reparation in cases of violence against these vulnerable groups. This is not an unprecedented legislation. Our legal system has laws for protection of specific groups. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 exist for women and Dalits respectively.


The Bill seeks to make certain, in the words of Harsh Mander, that “the law takes its own course and does not stand still” when violence is perpetrated against minorities, Dalits and tribals.


It is obvious clear that a specific bill to address communal violence is urgently needed. Another important aspect is that enactment of such legislation must be simultaneously followed by proper representation of all stakeholders i.e. Muslims and other minorities as the current government and police machinery, institutions and actors have a deeply entrenched bias against Muslims.


The Sachar Committee report mentions identity-related discrimination practiced against Muslims on day-to-day basis. The report shows that  Muslims are constantly looked upon with suspicion not only by certain sections of society but also by public institutions and governance structures.


There are no legal mechanisms to address such a dehumanising process. Dalits and adivasis in India are protected by a strong legislative tool like the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.


Despite lopsided implementation, the SC/ST Act has, at least, provided a legal instrument to deal with various forms of exclusion and discrimination by bringing them under the term “atrocities”.


It is ironic that Muslims, despite facing all forms of discrimination, marginalization and insecurity, have no legal mechanism to deal with the situation. It would have been desirable to enlarge the definition of communal and targeted violence under the Communal Violence Bill to cover day-to-day forms of identity-based discrimination.


Many of the problems faced by Muslims are complicated, if not actually generated, by the lopsided projection by influential sections of media, both electronic and print. For many such channels and newspapers, Muslim life in India seen worthy of discussion is when there is any terrorist attack   or some insignificant but “interesting” event fitting the stereotype takes place like so-called fatwa by self-styled Mufti-e-Azam to ban all-girls band, etc.

Such discussions further reinforce stereotypes either by the ignorance or prejudice of the anchors. The prejudice and ignorance deeply permeated among the mainline English and Hindi channels about the lives of some 130 million Indians have caused great damage to the cause of harmony and fraternity in the country.


We are aware that Indian Muslim community too shall have to exert to put its own house in order and strive for its own empowerment. However, it is undisputed that the community’s own efforts cannot lead to any substantial improvement in their condition unless the obstacles put by various state and non-state factors are effectively removed. We must appreciate that deep-rooted bias, discrimination and prejudices perpetuated by various exclusionary forces in the systems and mechanisms need to be addressed for pulling the Muslims out of the fringes of the development process and democratic fabric of this country.


Further, there is an urgent need to recognise that although these issues directly face Muslim community but their impact affects whole of the Indian society. Such recognition is necessary for effective realisation of the dream of the framers of the Constitution of India- the dream of an India that has justice for all and harmony among all Indians, irrespective of their diversities, based on solid foundations of equality and fraternity.



The writer is General Secretary of the All India Milli Council. The article was published in the form of a booklet by the All India Milli Council for distribution in a public gathering/Convention on 'Movement for Justice'

on April 6, 2013 at Ramlila Ground, Delhi.




Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS


More Headlines

Indian 'human computer' Shakuntala Devi no more

Tragedy in Boston and selective approach of world community

Study shows fat cells help repair muscles

UPA counts numbers ahead of parliament session

Live telecast may be suspended if Rajya Sabha disrupted: Ansari

At 56 deaths a month, Vidarbha screams for intervention

Visa-on-arrival approved at two Kerala airports

Tahrir Square hero to address India Internet Day

NIA combing operation in Bihar's four districts for suspected terrorist

Bihar's growth story concentrated in cities, says new book


Top Stories

Delhi's Shame

Delhi protests rage, barricades broken at Sonia house

Dozens of BJP women activists Sunday marched to Congress president Sonia Gandhi's house and broke barricades on the way to denounce  »

Child rape: Protests across the city against police laxity

Delhi rape accused held in Bihar

Candle, bottle poked into rape victim's genitals: Doctors


  Most Read

Live telecast may be suspended if Rajya Sabha disrupted: Ansari

Suggesting suspension of live telecast of Question Hour in the upper house of parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M. Hamid Ansari Sunday said there is a need to correct  »

War on Terror

NIA combing operation in Bihar's four districts for suspected terrorist

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has searched four districts of Bihar for Tahseen Akhtar, allegedly a member of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) involved in terrorist strikes in the country, police said Sunday. "NIA teams have conducted raids  »


  News Pick

Does Punjab have double standards on terrorism?

Be it Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) or the Punjab Police - their doublespeak on terrorism or those involved in it  »

Ghanaian president defies sanctions to host Ahmadinejad

Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama has defied international sanctions to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the last leg of his three-nation West African tour that also took him to Benin and Niger.  »

China in shock

China Earthquake: Death toll 113, over 2,500 injured

At least 113 people were killed and more than 2,500 others injured Saturday when a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck southwest China's Sichuan province, officials said. The earthquake hit Lushan county of Ya'an city  »

Media trial influencing court judgments

Mainstream behaving as if there is no judicial system left in the country, top journalists observe at a seminar in Malegaon

Stamping his valedictory seal on the claims by the journalists  »


Picture of the Day

A view of the newly Commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship H-191, in Mumbai Harbour on April 09, 2013.


Recommend the story to your friends



RSS  |  Contact us


| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant



Science & Technology



About us




Government Schemes










Contact us


The Funny Side

Education & Career Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.