Tideous argument of hideous intent by Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam (JUNE 09, 2011)
Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam questions BJP’s intentions behind their objections to the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation) Bill.
The BJP is extremely upset about the Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation) Bill. Why it is so perturbed is not very difficult to know. In fact, it is rather simple: the Bill, if enacted into law, is likely to take away its most effective electoral weapon which, unfortunately, is communal violence and ill-will.
Over the decades the party (as also its earlier version, Bhartiya Jan Sangh) has developed a vested interest in communal ill-will and violence. Everytime an anti-Muslim riot is staged in an area, and communal hatred grows as a byproduct, the BJP candidate is sure to win the local body, assembly, or Parliament seat. This fact is common knowledge across India.
Communal violence is so effective in getting them victory that their lumpen bands are busy doing anti-Muslim propaganda and building communal hysteria. As elections draw near, the atmosphere often gets so combustible that a spark is enough to lit a grand fire that consumes large number of homes and business establishments, besides killing large number of people.
Over the decades the Sangh has perfected the strategy of building up communal hysteria, topped by a communal riot in the run-up to elections. This strategy has mostly worked, ensuring heavy mobilisation of Hindu votes for the Sangh’s political wing. An authority on India’s communal politics, the American academic Paul Brass calls it a political drama staged to get the majority’s vote.
The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation) Bill is sure to take away the stage from the people who organise the drama and win elections by shedding Muslim or Christian blood. Naturally, the people who benefit from this drama will not like the Bill. To oppose the Bill they are taking recourse to tedious argument. They are saying the Bill would invariably hold persons from the majority community as responsible for every act of communal violence. The Bill does not propose any such thing.
Their next argument is that it will destroy India’s federal structure, which divides powers of the Centre and states under three lists: Central list, state list and concurrent list. The BJP argument is that law and order (which is there to, inte ralia, prevent incidents like communal riots) being on the state list, the Centre has no direct role to play in prevention and control of communal riots. That the Bill would change it is a case of misrepresentation. The Centre is not supposed to be an onlooker when an inept state government fails to prevent and control riots, bring the perpetrators to justice and rehabilitate and compensate victims and their kin.
Like its usual arguments, it is BJP’s way of making something good look like something bad. To understand the devious nature of the BJP argument one has to remember how it used to fight back the desperate Muslim pleas for an enquiry into blatantly one-sided police action against them.
Large number of Muslims have been killed by PAC in UP, BMP in Bihar and regular police in other states, without rhyme or reason. But every time Muslims have demanded action against these men in uniform, BJP has declared it an “anti-national” demand. How come? Well, the BJP argument has been that such a demand would “demoralise” the police force! Contrary to this, if policemen and PAC so much as lathi-charge a BJP demonstration, they would demand a “Nuremburg trial”. They have such a great sense of proportion.
The BJP’s main critic of the Bill is Arun Jaitley, a man known for defending Narendra Modi on Gujarat 2002 massacre. Not surprisingly, Modi has now joined him in attacking the Bill.
It is interesting to add here that of late communal propaganda and riots seem to be losing some of their efficacy. Anti-Muslim venom may no longer be the vote catcher it was a decade ago. During the last two Assembly elections in Delhi the familiar tactic of putting cows’ severe heads in temples across South Delhi failed to stir Hindu anger, cause a communal riot, and fill the ballot boxes with ballots in favour of BJP candidates.
If this is the case, then in years ahead communal venom may get diluted enough as a vote-mobilising weapon for BJP. That would be the time when men like Jaitley and Modi would stop attacking anti-communal violence legislation. Till then they would do everything to thwart such an honest and badly-needed piece of legislation.