The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Saturday said the problem of communalism would remain until political parties “eschewed all forms” of communal politics and backed communal violence legislation.
Suggesting the need for a law to combat communal violence, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told the National Integration Council (NIC) that the legislation should ensure swift punishment to perpetrators.
He wanted the law to provide for compensation and rehabilitation of victims and make the administration and the police accountable for firmly putting down incidents of violence, he said. It should focus only on “communal violence.”
“The legislation should be in keeping with the federal principle wherein the State governments have the primary responsibility for maintenance of law and order and policing,” he said.
Criticising the NIC for being unable to tackle the issue of national integration and communalism, he said communalism had social, political and economic dimensions. Though the Home Ministry figures showed that there was a slight reduction in the number of communal incidents in the last three years, there was “no cause for satisfaction or complacency.”
He said the continuance of communalism, which eroded national unity and weakened the secular fabric, was the result of communal ideology and the practice of communal politics. “It is fuelled by religious fundamentalism and the social and economic grievances being given a communal colour.”
Besides political parties eschewing communal politics, there was need to curb all manifestations of anti-secular and communal ideology; and check terrorism as there was a direct link between communalism and terrorism in India. “The task of combating terrorism can be successfully taken forward only when communalism and religious extremism are firmly checked,” Mr. Karat said.
The CPI(M) leader said discrimination against minorities continued and said the Sachar Committee report was yet to be implemented.
Gross injustice was being done to Scheduled Tribes and the government's mining policy posed a serious threat to them as it was leading to large-scale alienation of tribal land and displacement of tribals.
On civil disturbances, Mr. Karat said the method to deal with the issue was mired in the colonial framework and he cited the civil unrest in the Kashmir Valley as an example.
“Tackling civil mass unrest like an insurgency is at the root of this inhumane approach. Urgent measures are required to train the police to deal with mass protests and civil unrest.”
Mr. Karat also flagged the issue of increasing intolerance towards mass protests and demonstrations with the right to assembly being drastically curtailed.
“In city after city there are no places for people to assemble, to protest and to demand their rights. These democratic rights are being curtailed by permanent bans on such assemblies in public places by the administration and often by judicial fiats.”
On radicalisation of youth, he said it would be a positive phenomenon if it resulted in the youth embracing a radical vision for social, economic and political change, but in its absence, radicalisation of youth on religious, communal and sectarian agendas would be harmful and damage the development of a secular and harmonious society.
“The challenge is to provide the youth of our country with a stake and commitment to social and economic transformation; to be able to give them scope for productive employment and a belief that they can lead their lives with social justice and dignity, and this requires a change from the present economic order and policies which promote greed, crony capitalism, loot of national resources and corruption,” Mr. Karat said.