(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 19, 2008
CPI(M)’s Intervention At The NIC Meeting
Take Action Against Bajrang Dal
Below we reproduce the full text of the intervention made by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury in the National Integration Council meeting held in New Delhi on October 13, 2008. Yechury left the Central Committee meetings being held in Kolkata from October 12 to 14, 2008 for a day and came back to Delhi to participate in the NIC meeting. (Sub-headings added - Ed)
THIS meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) has been convened at a very critical moment in the life of our country. The orgy of violence against the minority Christian community has continued for weeks in Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and many other parts of the country. Reports of communal clashes are pouring in from various other parts of the country. At the same time, the series of terrorist attacks in Delhi as well as various state capitals poses a severe challenge to our country’s unity and integrity.
The NIC is meeting when such attacks against the minorities have continued for several weeks. In fact, the meeting should have been convened much earlier. The union government has a responsibility towards maintaining the unity and integrity of the country which has not been discharged in the manner warranted by the deteriorating situation. The union government’s responsibility is particularly so on the issue of protecting the right to life and the security of the tribals and the dalits in the country. The union government has failed to intervene in this situation even after six weeks of continuous attacks against the Christian minority in Orissa.
However, the agenda circulated for this meeting is a vast canvas covering all aspects of potential conflict and tensions adversely affecting national integration. In this short meeting, it is virtually impossible to discuss all these issues, however important and relevant they may be. On many of these issues like the question of social justice and the struggles against the connected caste-based social oppression; regional economic imbalances providing grist to the mill of regional chauvinism; providing adequate facilities for improving the welfare of the religious minorities as enunciated by the Sachhar Committee Report etc, the CPI(M) has a definite point of view which has been articulated before the NIC as well as publicly in the past.
The situation on all these counts has deteriorated particularly since the pursuance of the trajectory of economic liberalisation in the country. With the practice of a planned economic development where major public sector undertakings were located in economically backward regions being abandoned, regional economic imbalances have widened feeding the centrifugal forces of separatism in many parts of the country. State’s rights are being adversely affected over the sharing of financial resources under the liberalisation regime undermining centre-state relations envisaged in our federal constitutional set up. With the economic divide between the rich and poor widening and the consequent sharp rise in the cost of education and the shrinkage of the employment pie, the scramble between various social groups in our society has intensified adversely affecting both social justice and national integration. The earlier slogans of `sons of the soil’ are finding newer expressions in the current chauvinistic campaign in Maharashtra. The union government has failed to translate many of the recommendations and suggestions for improving the educational and social status of the minorities. While all these issues must be discussed in right earnest urgently, given the present critical situation, we would wish to confine ourselves to the two issues that we have raised at the outset.
ORGY OF VIOLENCE
As the orgy of violence against the Christian minority continues unabated in Orissa, Karnataka etc, come the gruesome reports of communal violence in Assam. So far, over 50 lives have been lost and close to a lakh of people have been forced to flee their homes. The clashes between the ethnic Bodo tribals, the local people and the Muslims is a grave development in a state which has repeatedly seen such ethnic and communal clashes weakening the unity of our social fabric.
Horrific is the latest report of a six member Muslim family being burnt alive in the Bhainsa town in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. So far ten lives have been consumed in the communal violence here. In the Dhule district of Maharashtra, communal violence has taken a toll of many innocent lives and large-scale destruction of houses and property. This is the third case of communal violence in the state of Maharashtra within a week. Rajasthan continues to be tense with communal clashes being reported from Udaipur. Similar reports of growing communal polarisation come from various other parts of the country. The situation in J&K where communal polarisation was sharply roused continues to remain a source of concern for the unity and integrity of India.
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM), in a severe indictment of the Karnataka government, has said that the BJP-led state government was “soft” on the Bajrang Dal ignoring ample warnings of impending violence against the Christian minorities. It also notes that after widespread outrage, the Karnataka police had arrested the Bajrang Dal state convenor. He was, however, released soon on bail. On the contrary, many Christians who are the victims, were arrested, refused bail and continue to languish in jails.
Similar observations have been made by the NCM regarding Orissa. The RSS and the Bajrang Dal have now threatened that only those dalit Christians who covert to Hinduism can return to rebuild their destroyed homes in Kandhmal, Orissa.
CURB TERRORIST ATTACKS
The sudden spurt of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country is a cause of utmost serious concern. It poses a serious danger to our internal security and the integrity of India. Such terrorist attacks need to be curbed by strengthening our security and intelligence gathering apparatus. All measures required to this end must be taken urgently. The question of modernisation of the police and other security forces must no longer be allowed to wait. It is the responsibility of the union government to initiate the process of consultation with the state governments and address this issue urgently. There is also an urgent need to take stringent measures to ensure that terrorist and militant outfits do not use facilities beyond our borders for the purposes of conducting their anti-national activities.
However, at the same time, it is also being widely believed that one of the contributors to the recent spate of terrorist attacks is the real and perceived injustice felt by the religious minorities in the country. Such sharpening of communal polarisation for political gains only feeds, unfortunately, the impermissible terroristic response. While terrorism is simply unacceptable and must be combated, this needs to be done on the basis of impeccable impartiality by the organs of the State. Terrorism knows no religion. It is simply anti-national. The recent spate of terrorist attacks in Muslim-dominated areas have raised genuine suspicions of a Hindu hardline response to some Muslim terrorist actions. The recent bomb attack in Malegaon where four Muslims were killed in a locality crowded with people who had broken their ramzan fast buttress such suspicions. When the media questioned the police whether Hindu hard liners were suspected, Maharashtra’s Additional Director General of Police (law and order) said, “At this stage, we cannot rule out the possibility”.
INVOLVEMENT OF BAJRANG DAL/RSS
Police investigations in the past few years have noted the involvement of Bajrang Dal or other RSS organisations in various bomb blasts across the country – in 2003, in Parbani, Jalna and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; in 2005, in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh; in 2006, in Nanded; in January 2008, at the RSS office in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli; in August 2008, in Kanpur etc etc. Internal security of our country can be strengthened only when all such cases are also probed impartially and with the same degree of intensity. Given this, action against the Bajrang Dal under the Unlawful Activities Act must be initiated.
As stated earlier, all efforts to combat terrorism and internal security must be strengthened. Most importantly, however, these activities must be conducted in a spirit of utmost impartiality. Organisations and individuals found to indulge in such terror activities, irrespective of their religious denomination must be dealt with the same yardstick. No persecution of any community, as widely perceived by the Muslim minority, in the name of combating terrorism, should be permitted.
The CPI(M) reiterates that the unity and integrity of the vast plurality and rich diversity of India can be maintained only by strengthening the bonds of commonality that run through this diversity. Any effort at seeking to impose a uniformity – religious or linguistic or cultural etc – upon this diversity is the surest recipe to promote disintegration. It is the task of all political parties, social groups and civil society who cherish the republican foundations of our secular, democratic modern India to strengthen the collective social consciousness of our country, to celebrate, not bemoan, India’s diversity.
The CPI(M) has always opposed the gross misuse of Article 356 of our Constitution. The CPI(M) has been seeking appropriate amendments to Article 356 of the Constitution in order to incorporate safeguard to prevent its misuse. However, in this connection, the NIC must be apprised if Article 355 has been invoked by the central government for Orissa, Karnataka etc. If so, what has been the response of the state governments? If not, why has it not been invoked?
May I conclude by offering the CPI(M)’s unstinted support to the all important task, on the lines suggested above, to contain both communalism and terrorism which promote the forces of disintegration of India.