Communal Religious And Targeted Violence A Need of prevention

India is a land of unity in diversity and people from many religious, social and cultural backgrounds harmoniously live in India.

However the diversity of the subcontinent has often been exposed under threats of religious violence. As Marx rightly says Religion often turns out to be the ‘opiate of masses’. The Communal violence is one of the major threats to Indian democracy. It has been a barrier to the socio- economic development of India.

The Communal issue has deep roots in the Indian past. The colonial rule was based on communal divisions. The British found the divide and rule policy as the most comfortable way to establish their hold in Indian subcontinent. The communal issue associated with the Partition of India was one of the major catastrophes in Indian history. India faced the worst form of communal violence during the Partition which led to massive death and destruction.

Even after independence, communal violence continues. There had been various Hindus and Muslims clashes in India. The Ahmedabad riots of 1969 claimed the lives of about thousand people. The 1984 riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi was another black spot. This was followed by the Meerut riots of 1987, Bhagalpur riots of 1989. The Mumbai riots of 1992 following demolition of Babri Masjid killed about 1788 people. The Gujarat riot in 2002 was one of the worst communal carnages in India.

Besides, there were other communal riots that have sprouted out in other parts of India. This includes the Varanasi bombings of 2006, Kadhamal riots in Orissa, in 2008, Mumbai Massacre on November 26th, 2008, 2012 Assam violence, and the Dharbha garti massacre in May 2013 and the latest one Muzafarnagar riots in September 2013.

In this context, it is essential to examine the need of a bill for preventing communal clashes in the country. There have been heated debates whether new laws are essential in this respect or the existing provisions are enough. The Indian penal code encompasses certain provisions to prevent the communal clashes. Section 141 to 160 provides for various provisions against any type of communal violence. It has provisions against unlawful assembly, Riot or any sort of activity which causes disharmony.

Article 335 of the Indian Constitution states- “It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution” However, the recurring communal riots prove that the existing provisions have not succeeded in preventing communal clashes in India. It is in this context that the necessity of a bill to prevent communal clashes arises.

Prevention of communal and targeted violence (Access to Justice and reparations) Bill, 2011 is one of the latest bills introduced in the Parliament with an agenda to prevent communal clashes which aims to provide equal access to justice and protection to the vulnerable groups through effective provisions for investigation, prosecution and trial of offences and intends to provide for the restorative relief, rehabilitation and compensation to all persons affected by communal violence. It aims to prevent atrocities, sexual assault, unlawful assemblies, hate propaganda etc. being organized leading to communal violence.

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