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UPA urged to pass bill on communal violence in winter session
Tuesday October 8, 2013 9:46 PM, IANS

Activists and social organisations Tuesday called upon the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to enact the communal violence prevention bill in the winter session of parliament.

They said the legislation should protect people from targeted violence by making accountable those in positions of public authority.

The activists sent memorandums to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal outlining 11 points that "must" be included in the communal violence prevention bill.

Addressing media persons here, advocate Vrinda Grover said the common minimum programme of UPA-I held out a promise of comprehensive legislation to prevent and deal with communal violence.

"The promise has not been fulfilled in the past 10 years," she said.

"We are demanding a law to protect people from communal and targeted crimes by making those in positions of public authority accountable, punishing those responsible for perpetrating, abetting or conspiring to cause violence and fair and equitable reparation to all affected persons," she said.

Grover said the draft bill prepared by the National Advisory Council had provisions for protection of victims belonging to minority community.

"We feel every victim has right to protection," she said.

Grover said there were administrative lapses in incidents of communal violence in different parts of the country, including Gujarat, Mumbai and Muzaffarnagar.

"If administrations had done their job, the tragedies would not have occurred," she said.

Grover said the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2005 and the government in 2009 introduced 59 amendments but "it remained deeply flawed and entirely unacceptable".

Along with Grover, the memorandum was released by social activists Shabnam Hashmi, Navaid Ahmed, Maulana Niaz Farooqi and Maulana Mehmood Madani of Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind and former Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Kamal Faruqui.

Shabnam Hashmi said had the bill been enacted earlier, it would have helped prevent communal violence in Muzaffarabad in which over 50 people were killed.

"If needed, we will exert more pressure on the government to pass the bill in the winter session," she said.

The demands in the memorandum, signed by 92 individuals and social organisations, include robust witness and victim protection, recognising people as internally displaced in the context of communal violence and respecting their rights according to UN guiding principles.

The Bharatiya Janata Party opposed the bill in the past, stating it sought to divide citizens into majority and minority categories.

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