A law for a vote bank

How else can we explain that the Hindu population of Kashmir was ethnically cleansed when the state was under direct rule from Delhi?

Published:February 9, 2014 12:14 am
BJP’s senior leaders are very good at stalling Parliament with a lot of sound and fury for a day or so and then quietly letting pass every new piece of dodgy legislation that Sonia Gandhi puts before them. BJP’s senior leaders are very good at stalling Parliament with a lot of sound and fury for a day or so and then quietly letting pass every new piece of dodgy legislation that Sonia Gandhi puts before them.

This piece is being written in the hope that by the time you read it, the BJP will not have changed its mind on the communal violence Bill. I say this because past experience shows us that the BJP’s senior leaders are very good at stalling Parliament with a lot of sound and fury for a day or so and then quietly letting pass every new piece of dodgy legislation that Sonia Gandhi puts before them. If they do exactly the same with this new law, then they will be doing India an unforgivable disservice.

The law was hatched by Sonia’s gang of jholawala do-gooders in her National Advisory Council (NAC) without serious thought being given to its consequences. So, if you get an autocratic, authoritarian prime minister after the 2014 general election, he will have licence to topple state governments on all kinds of specious grounds. Akhilesh Yadav would have been a goner after his abysmal performance during and after the violence in Muzaffarnagar. But the law’s ability to be misused is only part of the problem. The real problem is that it is completely unnecessary because, under present laws, communal violence can be stopped if political leaders want it stopped and officials who fail to stop it can be punished. If this has not happened in the past, it is only because political leaders did not want it to happen.

How else can we explain that the Hindu population of Kashmir was ethnically cleansed when the state was under direct rule from Delhi? When governor Jagmohan failed to provide them with the security they needed at the time, why was he not punished? When more than 3,000 Sikhs were butchered in the streets of Delhi in 1984, was a single official punished for criminal dereliction of duty? When uniformed thugs from the Provincial Armed Constabulary opened fire on Muslims in their custody in a truck near Meerut in 1987, was anyone punished? Of course not. But not because India’s laws do not have provisions to prevent these things from happening.

Derelict officials have got away with their evil deeds only because they have been protected by political leaders, who have used violence and mass murder as weapons to keep vulnerable communities in their toils. In the case of the Muslim community, this strategy worked so well that till the Babri Masjid was destroyed under a Congress prime minister, they always voted for the Congress. Their faith was shaken after that ugly episode but the ‘secular’ parties which began to woo them used Congress methods to continue to keep Muslims in their toils. The BJP bogeyman was resurrected every time they showed signs of wavering in their loyalties, and it is the BJP bogeyman from Gujarat that is now making the Congress seek new ways to restore its Muslim vote bank.

The newest of these ways is this communal violence Bill. It has been devised by Sonia’s advisors with the specific intention of showing Muslims how much Madame cares for her Muslim subjects. Some of these advisors, incidentally, have made extremely lucrative careers out of expressing sympathy for victims of communal violence. Huge funds have come from foreign donors to set up NGOs that supposedly take care of these victims. And who cares if it’s only tokenism? After the Assam riots, an NGO showed up with victims from Gujarat to comfort the new victims. An utterly bizarre exercise if you keep in mind that they would not have had even a language in common.

As someone who has been constant in my opposition to the NAC on the grounds that it is an extra-constitutional body, may I say that my opposition has deepened on account of the laws that it has imposed on us. Not one of them has been worthwhile and the BJP should be ashamed of itself for having happily gone along with passing them after the token amount of sound and fury. If this is what happens once more with this insidious new piece of legislation, then it does not deserve to ever come to power in Delhi.

The Congress has done much harm to India in the name of ‘secularism’, but the BJP has done as much harm in the past decade for being an opposition party that has worked virtually in absentia. If they want a degree of redemption, let them stop this Bill from becoming a dangerous new law. This is no longer about Muslim ‘appeasement’ but about trying to ensure that, forever and ever, Muslims think of themselves as separated from the mainstream of India by a mostly mistaken sense of grievance. This Bill is of a piece with Rajiv Gandhi’s decision, under pressure from Islamic fundamentalists, to uphold the Muslim personal law. Let us remember the divisions and violence that came afterwards.

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh

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  1. R
    rajnikant b
    Feb 9, 2014 at 9:09 am
    I agree,we have laws to deal with any law and order situation.The politicians play around with muscle power,when enforment agencies simply become helpless.BJP election platform is India first, development and growth and should not allow the bill to go through,since BJP accuses Congress of 'divide and rule' policy. If BJP helps Congress to p the communal violence bill, it will a case of 'aiding and abbeting'.Voters will BJP differently if supports Congress with the page of the bill.
    Reply
    1. R
      rajnikant b
      Feb 9, 2014 at 9:09 am
      I agree,we have laws to deal with any law and order situation.The politicians play around with muscle power,when enforment agencies simply become helpless.BJP election platform is India first, development and growth and should not allow the bill to go through,since BJP accuses Congress of 'divide and rule' policy. If BJP helps Congress to p the communal violence bill, it will a case of 'aiding and abbeting'.Voters will BJP differently if supports Congress with the page of the bill.
      Reply
      1. A
        Admirer
        Feb 9, 2014 at 10:00 am
        Well said! I always like your columns. You speak plain and straight. Please keep it up!
        Reply
        1. A
          Admirer
          Feb 9, 2014 at 10:00 am
          Well said! I always like your columns. You speak plain and straight. Please keep it up!
          Reply
          1. A
            Aniket
            Feb 9, 2014 at 5:49 am
            Bravo Tavleen Well said.. I hope your friends in media , the secularists like raj deep, prannoy, shekhar Gupta, n ram, s varadarajan, Karan chap pal, Arnav, vir radia tape Sanghvi, had the balls to say this or were men enough. I also hope that the fair friends from media like sagarika gutter hose, barkha were not so keen on pimping for congress b of secularism that they could oppose this bill. I agree about Bjp being opposition in absentia,how do you think media (you are a glorious exception) has performed its role of raising awareness
            Reply
            1. A
              Aniket
              Feb 9, 2014 at 5:49 am
              Bravo Tavleen Well said.. I hope your friends in media , the secularists like raj deep, prannoy, shekhar Gupta, n ram, s varadarajan, Karan chap pal, Arnav, vir radia tape Sanghvi, had the balls to say this or were men enough. I also hope that the fair friends from media like sagarika gutter hose, barkha were not so keen on pimping for congress b of secularism that they could oppose this bill. I agree about Bjp being opposition in absentia,how do you think media (you are a glorious exception) has performed its role of raising awareness
              Reply
              1. A
                arun
                Feb 9, 2014 at 5:40 am
                The voice of the common man gets reflected in the voice of intellectuals of a society. Sadly, in our society, the intellectuals have, most of the time, been naive enough to ignore ground realities of the mes and get carried away by the superficial compion shown by Congress and other so called secular parties. For them it was as if Hindus were always the perpetrators of violence and injustice and every HIndu who spoke about feeling victimized was bed a follower of Nathuram Godse ideology in subtle ways. If today we need to address the unrest and churning that is going in Hindus, the intellectuals need to rise above this petty thinking counter the political parties who are deceiving every community by playing them against each other.
                Reply
                1. L
                  Lakshmi Chatti
                  Feb 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm
                  The behaviour of political parties in Parliament is depicted well in this article.The parliamentarians are only guided by short-term selfish goals and are having national spirit or goal.The present state of Indian economy and polity prove this fact.The ruling dispensation is having a misconception that it is the only forum manned by intellectuals and the voters can be easily fooled by it.The recent spate of legislations betray this pitiful state of mind.So is the case with the Delhi govt. Let us hope that the 2014 general election will get a better Govt. for the nation.
                  Reply
                  1. L
                    Lakshmi Chatti
                    Feb 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm
                    The behaviour of political parties in Parliament is depicted well in this article.The parliamentarians are only guided by short-term selfish goals and are having national spirit or goal.The present state of Indian economy and polity prove this fact.The ruling dispensation is having a misconception that it is the only forum manned by intellectuals and the voters can be easily fooled by it.The recent spate of legislations betray this pitiful state of mind.So is the case with the Delhi govt. Let us hope that the 2014 general election will get a better Govt. for the nation.
                    Reply
                    1. T
                      TiredOfCongress
                      Feb 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm
                      Tavleen ji, very true article, well highlighted implications of Communal Violence Bill. But I would highlight other opportunist regional parties and so called national parties are also not speaking much against it. It is not of voting as a hindu or muslim, but as an Indian. Few days back I had read somewhere, we should consider Muslims a second largest majority, only then we will policies that include them in our planning of stronger & united India. Vote bank politics is draining energy of young India and eventually will do the same when they grow into so called nextgen politicians. Dear Politicians for yourself and your own next gen build policies and laws which make sure we have a strong India 50 yrs down the line and they feel proud of our decision now.
                      Reply
                      1. T
                        TiredOfCongress
                        Feb 9, 2014 at 11:45 pm
                        Tavleen ji, very true article, well highlighted implications of Communal Violence Bill. But I would highlight other opportunist regional parties and so called national parties are also not speaking much against it. It is not of voting as a hindu or muslim, but as an Indian. Few days back I had read somewhere, we should consider Muslims a second largest majority, only then we will policies that include them in our planning of stronger & united India. Vote bank politics is draining energy of young India and eventually will do the same when they grow into so called nextgen politicians. Dear Politicians for yourself and your own next gen build policies and laws which make sure we have a strong India 50 yrs down the line and they feel proud of our decision now.
                        Reply
                        1. F
                          Faisal
                          Feb 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm
                          "But not because India’s laws do not have provisions to prevent these things from happening.Derelict officials have got away with their evil deeds only because they have been protected by political leaders..."And Tavleen what when Political leaders includes the one bogeyman from Gujarat which this author itself is supporting for the nation's top job. I will go back to the cliched point to your ears but can with quite certainty make a controversial remark for his supporters that had it not been the Gujarat riots, Modi would not had the kind of fanatical support he got from his 'base'. He became the Hindu hriday samrat and that is the base that pushed him to the forefront. That inspite of whatever he has to offer for many outside his base because of lack of alternatives, the fact that he can preside over what happened in Gujarat and still get the support of you Tavleen talks of doublespeek. You will not do that when you talk about 1984, and correctly. But please stand by the same principle for 2002. Just the same, nothing more, nothing less.Something is wrong, and if not communal violence bill then please put the alternative forward. Please dont say that the country has laws. That they dont work is a fact and result in loss of lives and property.
                          Reply
                          1. F
                            Faisal
                            Feb 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm
                            "But not because India’s laws do not have provisions to prevent these things from happening.Derelict officials have got away with their evil deeds only because they have been protected by political leaders..."And Tavleen what when Political leaders includes the one bogeyman from Gujarat which this author itself is supporting for the nation's top job. I will go back to the cliched point to your ears but can with quite certainty make a controversial remark for his supporters that had it not been the Gujarat riots, Modi would not had the kind of fanatical support he got from his 'base'. He became the Hindu hriday samrat and that is the base that pushed him to the forefront. That inspite of whatever he has to offer for many outside his base because of lack of alternatives, the fact that he can preside over what happened in Gujarat and still get the support of you Tavleen talks of doublespeek. You will not do that when you talk about 1984, and correctly. But please stand by the same principle for 2002. Just the same, nothing more, nothing less.Something is wrong, and if not communal violence bill then please put the alternative forward. Please dont say that the country has laws. That they dont work is a fact and result in loss of lives and property.
                            Reply
                            1. G
                              Gaurav
                              Feb 10, 2014 at 9:55 am
                              Firstly, I find the reference "jholawala do-gooders" gratuitous and offensive... just as I would be offended if Ms. Singh or her ilk of opinion-piece writers were casually referred to as "mediawali know-it-all."Secondly, the Communal Violence Bill needs to be debated in Parliament first... only then will we know about its pros and cons, and if suitable amendments can redress its flaws, or if it needs to be junked entirely. The sad thing about modern India is the lack of proper debates in Parliament. Instead we have walkouts and noisy protests, with no legislative discussions undertaken.Thirdly, a country with such an abysmal record of preventing or controlling riots and delivering justice to riot victims certainly needs to have a serious think about updating old, ineffective laws or creating entirely new and more effective laws.Lastly, the criticism of the NAC is often overdone, as in this article. Previous members like Aruna Roy (a key force behind the RTI movement... which has dramatically aided transparency) and Harsh Mander (just to name 2) have outstanding public service credentials. Besides, they only put up draft laws for consideration of the government.... it is the Cabinet and eventually Parliament that alters / amends / enacts laws in this country. So the bouquets or brickbats should be directed primarily at the Cabinet and the Parliament (including of course the opposition).
                              Reply
                              1. G
                                Gaurav
                                Feb 10, 2014 at 9:55 am
                                Firstly, I find the reference "jholawala do-gooders" gratuitous and offensive... just as I would be offended if Ms. Singh or her ilk of opinion-piece writers were casually referred to as "mediawali know-it-all."Secondly, the Communal Violence Bill needs to be debated in Parliament first... only then will we know about its pros and cons, and if suitable amendments can redress its flaws, or if it needs to be junked entirely. The sad thing about modern India is the lack of proper debates in Parliament. Instead we have walkouts and noisy protests, with no legislative discussions undertaken.Thirdly, a country with such an abysmal record of preventing or controlling riots and delivering justice to riot victims certainly needs to have a serious think about updating old, ineffective laws or creating entirely new and more effective laws.Lastly, the criticism of the NAC is often overdone, as in this article. Previous members like Aruna Roy (a key force behind the RTI movement... which has dramatically aided transparency) and Harsh Mander (just to name 2) have outstanding public service credentials. Besides, they only put up draft laws for consideration of the government.... it is the Cabinet and eventually Parliament that alters / amends / enacts laws in this country. So the bouquets or brickbats should be directed primarily at the Cabinet and the Parliament (including of course the opposition).
                                Reply
                                1. D
                                  Don
                                  Feb 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm
                                  NGOs, communal violence and NAC. This pot pourri is now dubbed unconsutional and 1984 is now juxtaposed with 2013. So can we all go back to weaving Khadi? But wait that would be pre-consutional and the Czars, read NGOs and advisory councils, would also be banned. Politics is a necessary part of pluralism. It is the salt that es our lives. Tavleen Singh's diatribe does politics no good. She vents her spleen on "Madame", with no substance. Her frothy bile cannot differentiate between a gubernatorial post, read Governor, and an elected one. The Communal Violence Bill, is an attempt to take out the petty politics that drives vote bank tactics. It may be flawed, but it provides a platform that ensures that the rights of all citizens are respected. Let us now go to the red herring of Muslim Personal Law. This is an aberration, like all religious laws that have been codified in India. Such laws take away the very basis of equality and justice. Such a unified law is a dire necessity for any civil society. But unfortunately both our politicians and our journalists are unable to take the call. Both are busy frothing with their own peculiar sense of justice.
                                  Reply
                                  1. D
                                    Don
                                    Feb 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm
                                    NGOs, communal violence and NAC. This pot pourri is now dubbed unconsutional and 1984 is now juxtaposed with 2013. So can we all go back to weaving Khadi? But wait that would be pre-consutional and the Czars, read NGOs and advisory councils, would also be banned. Politics is a necessary part of pluralism. It is the salt that es our lives. Tavleen Singh's diatribe does politics no good. She vents her spleen on "Madame", with no substance. Her frothy bile cannot differentiate between a gubernatorial post, read Governor, and an elected one. The Communal Violence Bill, is an attempt to take out the petty politics that drives vote bank tactics. It may be flawed, but it provides a platform that ensures that the rights of all citizens are respected. Let us now go to the red herring of Muslim Personal Law. This is an aberration, like all religious laws that have been codified in India. Such laws take away the very basis of equality and justice. Such a unified law is a dire necessity for any civil society. But unfortunately both our politicians and our journalists are unable to take the call. Both are busy frothing with their own peculiar sense of justice.
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      Rayborn Sathyam
                                      Feb 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
                                      Why cant Kej-rishi getting India out of a Cage, at outset declare no money will be sought from Central Govt. People will voluntarily raise funds within India for Indians (no China ) to pay for swaraj safely from India and iys NRI. Pledge this to the Supreme court say only as last resort we will tax people for freedom.
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Rayborn Sathyam
                                        Feb 10, 2014 at 12:40 am
                                        Why cant Kej-rishi getting India out of a Cage, at outset declare no money will be sought from Central Govt. People will voluntarily raise funds within India for Indians (no China ) to pay for swaraj safely from India and iys NRI. Pledge this to the Supreme court say only as last resort we will tax people for freedom.
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          arjun
                                          Feb 9, 2014 at 7:14 am
                                          Gr8 article.
                                          Reply
                                          1. A
                                            arjun
                                            Feb 9, 2014 at 7:14 am
                                            Gr8 article.
                                            Reply
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