National

Congress urges Amit Shah to act on hate speech

Congress leader Anand Sharma. File

Congress Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah stating that an “atmosphere of insecurity and distrust” is being created through hate speeches and “the image of the world’s largest democracy has been tarnished”.

The Congress leader, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee panel on Home Affairs, has asked Mr. Shah to advise the Union Home Secretary about sensitising the State governments and suggested legislative changes to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to more effectively deal with such speeches.

Mr. Sharma’s letter, dated January 19, comes exactly a month after a dharam sansad [religious congregation] was held in Haridwar in poll-bound Uttarakhand in which the Muslim community was targeted by several speakers including controversial organiser Yati Narsinghanand, who has recently been arrested by the local police.

A similar dharam sansad was also held in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh earlier this month during which one of the speakers made derogatory references to Mahatma Gandhi.

“The actions of certain organisations and individuals in different parts of the country aimed at minorities and women are a matter of serious concern. The exhortations made inflame passions and create an environment of insecurity and distrust,” Mr. Sharma said.

The Congress leader said the hate speeches are being used as a “tool” to promote enmity and disharmony on the ground of religion, caste, ethnicity etc and, if left unchecked, it will “severely undermine the rule of law and threaten the fundamental right to life, liberty and dignity”.

Mr. Sharma said the recent incidents and “orchestrated acts of violence” not only made it to national and global media but also tarnished the image of the world’s largest democracy.

“Free speech, though quintessence of democracy and enshrined in the Constitution, cannot be allowed to be misused to advocate, incite, promote or justify hatred and violence against a person or community...It is requested that Home Secretary be advised to sensitise the Chief Secretaries and the DGPs to take prompt and firm action to enforce the law and secure order,” he wrote.

“Further, the government may consider legislative action including amendments in the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure to effectively counter all manifestations of hate speech in the larger national interest,” Mr. Sharma said.


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Printable version | May 8, 2022 6:36:46 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-urges-amit-shah-to-act-on-hate-speech/article38299008.ece