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Karnataka: Human rights groups demand withdrawal of CM Bommai’s ‘action-reaction’ remark on moral policing

A coalition of human rights groups held an agitation at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru demanding and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister through Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
October 21, 2021 4:35:54 pm
The coalition of groups involved in fighting for human rights and the rights of youth, women, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, LGBTQI across Karnataka held an agitation at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru demanding that Bommai withdraw his recent 'action-reaction' statement and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister through Home Minister Araga Jnanendra. (Express)

Members of a coalition of human rights organisations in Karnataka held protests on Thursday demanding withdrawal of a statement made by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on October 13 in Mangaluru allegedly in support of acts of moral policing carried out by radical groups in the state.

During a visit to Mangalore last week, the Karnataka chief minister in a reply to a question on incidents of moral policing in the region had issued a statement that was seen as an endorsement of acts of moral policing by vigilante groups.

“When sentiments are hurt there will normally be action and reaction. The responsibility of the government apart from maintaining law and order is to preserve social harmony. Everyone must cooperate. Some youths need to ensure that the sentiments of their society are not hurt. This is a social issue and we need morality in society,” Bommai had stated.

The statement has been viewed as a violation of constitutional values and a legitimisation of acts of violence by individuals taking law into their own hands.

The coalition of groups involved in fighting for human rights and the rights of youth, women, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, LGBTQI across Karnataka held an agitation at Mysore Bank Circle in Bengaluru demanding that Bommai withdraw his recent ‘action-reaction’ statement and submitted a memorandum to the chief minister through Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.

“The communal health of the state is fast deteriorating owing to the rising violence by Hindutva groups. These organizations are effectively imposing social segregation on the basis of religion, gender and caste which is contrary to the core principles of the Constitution of fraternity and secularism. In fact, in S.R. Bommai vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors., the Supreme Court has categorically held that Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution. Despite this, you(Chief minister) have failed to take any action against any such groups,” stated in the memorandum.

In the memorandum, the members have alleged that the chief minister has acted in complete violation of his constitutional obligation. “Wish to bring to your notice the oath taken by you when you were sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of the State of Karnataka under the Third Schedule of the Constitution of India, in which you have solemnly affirmed to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, to faithfully and conscientiously discharge your duties as the Chief Minister for the State of Karnataka, and to do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. And you have acted in complete violation of this constitutional obligation,” the memorandum further stated.

Vinay Sreenivasa, an advocate with Alternative Law Forum, said: “The chief minister has an allegiance to constitutional morality and not someone’s perception of morality. If he cannot uphold his oath, he must resign. The CM must take action against the Hindutva goons.”

The Karnataka chief minister’s statement on moral policing “legitimises and encourages perpetrators of violence and makes the victims into offenders. He is violating the very Constitution that he took an oath to protect,” human rights groups have stated.

“Over the last year, we have been seeing an increase in violence in the name of religion and caste. Right-wing extremist organisations, including RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP, Sri Ram Sene are targeting all forms of interreligious and inter-caste relationships, friendships and interactions, by dragging people to the police station or even violently killing them for it,” reads a statement by the coalition of rights organisations.

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