Determined to promote its minority-appeasement agenda, the United Progressive Alliance government is readying itself to introduce an obnoxious Bill that could disturb communal harmony, wreck the federal features of the Constitution and give the Union Government a fresh set of excuses to interfere in the governance of states.
 
The aim of this Bill - called the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill – is ostensibly to curb communal violence and hatred but
it rests on the flawed premise that in all situations the religious majority perpetrates violence on the religious minority. Therefore, members of the majority community are the culprits and members of the minority communities are the victims. Since this is the foundation on which this law rests, ab initio it treats the Hindus, who constitute the majority in 28 of the 35 states and union territories, as the offenders and Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities as the victims of communal hatred and violence. The draft of this abominable law has come from the National Advisory Council – a body of  Hindu-bashers, pseudo-secularists and Nehru-Gandhi camp followers which is headed by Ms Sonia Gandhi – and is receiving due consideration from a government which is headed for the first time by a member of a religious minority. Such are its provisions that far from promoting communal harmony, it could weaken the commitment to secularism among the Hindus.
 
The Bill describes ‘Communal and Targeted Violence’ in Section 3 (C) as “any act or series of acts …… knowingly directed against any person by virtue of his or her membership of any group which destroys the secular fabric of the nation”. The biggest mischief is in the definition of the word “group” that occurs in Section 3(e). It says a “group” means “a religious or linguistic minority, in any State in the Union of India, or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes ……..”.

This means that Hindus, who today constitute the majority in most states and union territories will not constitute a “group” under this law and therefore, will not be able to invoke its provisions, even if they are victims of Muslim or Christian communalism, hatred or violence. This would imply, as several commentators on this Bill have already pointed out, that if this law were to be in force in 2002, the 59 Hindus who were burnt to death by a Muslim mob at Godhra Station in Gujarat would have no right to lodge an FIR under this law because the Hindus constitute a majority in that state, but the Muslims would use these provisions to prosecute the perpetrators of the post-Godhra violence in that state. This will amount to treating Hindu victims of communal violence as second class citizens and would approximate to the kind of anti-Hindu laws that prevail in the Islamic State of Pakistan.
 
The Bill describes a “victim” as a member of a religious minority who has suffered “physical, mental, psychological or monetary harm or harm to his or her property as a result of the commission of any offence under this Act, and includes his or her relatives, legal guardian and legal heirs, wherever appropriate”. Going by this description, a Muslim or Christian in most parts of India who is aggrieved with a Hindu neighbour over some issue, can turn around and accuse the Hindu of causing him or her “psychological harm”. Further, if the “victim” is not inclined to deploy this mischievous provision, the Bill allows his or her relatives to do so.
 
Hindu-bashing appears to be the primary aim of this exercise. The Bill says it extends to the whole of India. However, when it comes to the only Muslim-majority state in the Indian Union – Jammu and Kashmir – it says that “the Central Government may, with the consent of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, extend the Act to that State”. One must see what other caveats will be put in place in respect of the only Muslim-majority union territory – Lakshadweep – where Hindus constitute just 3.7 per cent of the population.
 
However, though the Hindus will bear the brunt of this Bill’s obnoxious provisions, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs could also find themselves in trouble because the state is the unit to determine the issue of majority-minority. As per the religion data in the 2001 census, the Sikhs constitute 59.9 per cent of the population in Punjab, whereas the Hindu population in that state is 36.9 per cent. If this law comes into force, the Sikhs (constituting the majority) will face the music if Hindus begin accusing them of promoting communal hatred and anti-secular policies. Similarly, Christians, who have an overwhelming majority in three states – Nagaland (90 per cent), Mizoram (87 per cent) and Meghalaya (70.30 per cent) – will find themselves in deep trouble if the Hindu minority in these states begins to leverage this law and lodge complaints against the religious majority.
 
Therefore, citizens who happen to be Muslims, Christians or Sikhs should not be taken in by the claims of the Congress Party that this Bill will strengthen secularism. Because this law does not treat all perpetrators of communal violence and hatred equally, these citizens will face the heat in all states where they are in a majority.     
 
There is yet another anomaly in regard to determining the majority and the minority in each state. Since this law grants all religious minorities in all states and members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes all over India, the right to victim hood, the demographic reality in many states and union territories places the Hindus at a disadvantage. For example, there are states like Manipur (46 per cent Hindu) and Arunachal Pradesh (34.60 per cent Hindu) where no religious group has a clear majority. So, who is the “culprit” and who is the “victim” in these states? Further, if you exclude the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from the Hindu population, what will be the percentage of Hindus in these states. Kerala, with 56.20 per cent, is also a case in point. If you exclude Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (22 per cent approx), what is the percentage of the Hindu “majority” in that state? Also, can this “majority” be seen as the oppressor of the Muslim “minority” (24.70 per cent) or the Christian “minority” (19 per cent).
 
There are other equally dangerous provisions that attempt to completely subvert the federal principles in our Constitution and that which enable the Union Government to intimidate officials in the state. These provisions will have to be discussed separately.
However, for the moment, let there be no doubt. This is a “Communal” and “Targeted” Bill. It is communal because it gives only religious minorities like the Muslims and Christians the right to use its provisions when there is communal strife. Hindus in most parts of India are prohibited from using its provisions. Secondly, this Bill is certainly “targeted”, not against communalists of all hues, but at Hindus.
 
Should Sonia Gandhi and her cohorts have their way, the country’s unity and integrity will be in peril. Far from promoting communal harmony, these are all provisions aimed at promoting communal strife. Such a law could only have come out of a Devil’s workshop!  It could not have been drafted by persons who love a democratic and secular India or persons who care for India’s unity and integrity. Where has the original draft come from? We must investigate.