The passage of the lokpal bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday has been welcomed by most newspapers. In its lead story (December 18),Aziz-ul-Hind draws satisfaction from the fact that the bill was passed after a six-hour discussion. Almost all papers have highlighted that it has been passed with near unanimity,ranging from the BJP on the right to the CPM on the left of the political spectrum. The isolation of the Samajwadi Party,which staged a walkout during the vote,has been pointed out by the newspapers. Inquilab,Rashtriya Sahara and Hamara Samaj wrote elaborately on the exchange of letters between Anna Hazare and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi,highlighting the new bonhomie between the two,something that might show some significant results in the months to come. On December 19,Rashtriya Sahara wrote that other than the strong will of the government whats crucial is the creation of consciousness among people to fight corruption.
COMMUNAL VIOLENCE BILL
According to a commentary in multi-edition daily Sahafat (December 8),The government has made certain changes in the draft of this bill in view of the strong opposition from the BJP and rightwing Hindu organisations. The objective of this law was earlier said to be an end to violence against religious and linguistic minorities. Now the objective has been changed to merely controlling violence. The Centre has also given up its earlier proposal to form a national authority for fixing accountability of government officers in cases of communal riots and their investigation. Now this task would be assigned to national and state human rights commissions. The paper adds: If the media,non-Muslim activists and courts outside Gujarat were not involved,all records of the Gujarat riots of 2002 would have been destroyed due to the patronage given to the rioters by the state government. In such situations,the intervention of and strict action by the Central government is imperative.
Aziz-ul-Hind,edited by Aziz Burney,in its editorial on December 8,writes: If the BJP is opposing this bill,it can be understood. But what about parties claiming to be secular? West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has secular views and does everything to give solace to Muslims. But even her thinking on this is not different from the BJPs. If the argument of the secularists against the bill that it provides for intervention by the Centre in matters of concern to states,is conceded,why dont these people bring forward anti-communal violence bills in their states? Delhi and Patna-based Hamara Samaj (December 18) says that the bill may remain pending and not passed in Parliament despite the approval accorded to it by the Union cabinet. The reason is said to be the strong opposition of the BJP as well as the lack of interest on the part of the Central government to pass it.
DEFEND SECTION 377
The Supreme Court order on Section 377 of the IPC has been supported by almost all Urdu papers. Jadeed Khabar,in its editorial on December 14,writes: The tragedy is that the government has come under the pressure of homosexuals and it is being seen to bow down before them. Obviously,the verdict of the Delhi High Court has been seen as promoting an extremely undesirable evil in society beyond any logic or rationale. This type of encouragement was nothing short of a challenge to those believing in natural sexual relationships.
Rashtriya Sahara,on December 12 writes: Although the number of homosexuals in the country is not high,the number of its supporters has been increasing. The question is why the electronic media gives so much importance to a campaign of a small number of persons… This is strongly backed by shameless protagonists in the West. Even funding (from foreign sources) for open demonstration of homosexuality by the concerned organisations cannot be ruled out.
The editor of Inquilab,Shakeel Shamsi,in his signed column on December 13,expresses the view that the government should conduct a nationwide referendum before going in for any amendment or curtailment in Section 377… Or,political parties should include it in their manifestos for the 2014 Lok Sabha election so that people can give their verdict on this issue. This battle is not of any particular community. It is a battle to be fought jointly by Hindus,Muslims,Sikhs,Buddhists and Christians and religious leaders of all faiths.
Compiled by Seema Chishti.