BANGALORE: The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, said on Sunday that the country in the post-Babri Masjid demolition period has been facing a severe erosion of its secular values and consequently facing a hit on the federal structure.
He said: “There should be a debate on whether or not this country will be able to save its status as a federal state and if yes, for how long.”
Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Gowda said the “seeds of mistrust and mutual suspicion have been sown between the three major communities by the Sangh Parivar through its campaign against the minorities.”
The Janata Dal (Secular), along with the Left and other like-minded parties, has been staging a dharna over the atrocities on minorities in particular, near the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi over the last few days. The protest will conclude on October 2.
Quoting from history, Mr. Gowda said the experience of the Republic of South Africa had also been similar. Mahatma Gandhi faced racial discrimination there and later in life, had worked at routing it. Deriving a lesson, the South African government constituted a commission to go into the whole gamut of discrimination which has paid results. The Union government too should pursue a similar path to stem communal activities.
Mr. Gowda said the recent incidents of “persecution of Christians and witch-hunting of Muslims has threatened to rip the secular character of the country and also threatens the unity of the country.”
“I am disappointed at the report submitted by the Nanavati-Mehta committee that has failed to see the Gujarat government’s manipulation of facts and figures of violence after the Godhra incident.” There was no need to give Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit, Mr. Gowda added.
Producing the letter he had written to the then Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, and Home Minister L.K. Advani on February 28, 2002, after the train tragedy, Mr. Gowda said: “The letter had expressed serious concern over the State government’s attempts to cover up its shameless involvement in the State-sponsored brutal carnage by appointing a retired High Court Judge to probe the incidents,” he said.
The letters and the subsequent appeals made on the floor of the Lok Sabha did not evoke any action from the government, Mr. Gowda added.
“The Central government should seriously ponder over the establishment of a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe all incidents of communal violence in the past and thereby restore the faith of all sections of society, particularly the minorities, in our secular democratic system and thus bring back into the mainstream all alienated Indians,” Mr. Gowda said.
He declined to comment on the statements of State Home Minister V.S. Acharya on the attacks on the prayer halls of the minorities in the State. “ I only hope that the State government will put its act together and protect the innocent minorities.”