Communalism in India – II

Post-Independent India factors:

  • Political opportunism was an immediate factor which led to strengthening of communal politics. The power struggle between the congress led by Indira Gandhi vs Jana Sangh and Swatantra party (mainly former princes angered by Indira Gandhi’s abolition of Privy Purse). Other parties which were anti-socialist joined. They insisted communal passions to weaken Mrs. Gandhi’s appeal.
  • The continued questioning of the loyalty of Muslims to India strengthened communal politics. For example, Jana Sangh in 1969 Patna session openly called for Indianisation of Muslims which amounted to question Indianess and nationalism of Muslims.
  • The continued backwardness of some regions with incidentally community being a majority presents a perfect opportunity for communalism by narrow sectarian leaders. In a backward and communally divided society, it is difficult to develop class solidarity across communal identities.
  • Formation of political parties by communal leaders as a political strategy for the party’s success is also factoral. For example, formation of Shiv Sena in 1969.
  • Communalism is also strengthened because of militant insurgence, regional along with communal identities to get a larger share in limited economic resources. For example, the Nairs of Kerala encouraged the RSS to strengthen bases in Kerala to grab more economic opportunities in limited Kerala.
  • Communalism is also used as a strategy/rivalry between criminal systems. For example, in Baroda’s riot, it was rivalry between illicit liquor gangs of Hindus and Muslims.
  • The Godra riots are actually a manifestation between the Sindhis and the Ganchi muslims, both of who are dominant entrepreneurial classes and hence have an entrepreneurial rivalry.

Need of a law:

Commissions of enquiry setup after every major communal conflict have consistently come down heavily on the state authorities as also certain parties and organizations for their role in violence. However, it is in very rare cases that perpetrators have been convicted. By and large, police and the administrative classes have been left untouched by the law. Hence, a carefully designed law on communal violence is needed.

Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005:

  • This bill provides for (a) prevention and control of communal violence, (b) speedy investigation and trials, and (c) rehabilitation of victims.
  • The state government can declare an area as communally disturbed under certain conditions. The district magistrate or the competent authority appointed by the state government can take measures such as regulating assembly, directing persons to deposit their arms, searching premises etc to control communal violence.
  • The bill provides double the punishment as provided by other existing laws. The state governments shall establish special courts to try offences under this law. These courts may direct convicted persons to pay compensation to victims or dependents.
  • Communal Disturbance Relief and Rehabilitation Councils will be formed at the national, state and district levels.
  • The district council shall pay atleast 20% of total compensation as immediate compensation to victims.