NATIONAL INTEGRATION COUNCIL MEETING NEW DELHI / 10.9.2011

BRIEF VERSION OF  CHIEF MINISTER D V Sadananda Gouda’s   SPEECH

Respected Prime Minister, Hon’ble Union Home Minister, Hon’ble Governors and Chief Ministers from various States, Leaders of National and Regional Political parties, distinguished members of the National Integration Council,  Ladies and Gentlemen.

  1. At the outset, I compliment the Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for reconstituting the National Integration Council.
  1. Since 1962 this important council has held only 14 meetings, the last being held in October, 2008.  I strongly urge that the council should meet regularly at least once a year.
  1. Like in many parts of the country, the State of Karnataka is multi-religious, multi-lingual and has multi-ethnic communities.
  1. Despite attempts by certain groups to tarnish the reputation of the State by causing misunderstanding among communities and other ethnic groups, the State Government has successfully maintained communal harmony and has taken action against such mischievous elements.
  1. The Government of Karnataka has issued Notification in January 2011 constituting the State Integration Council under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister.
  1. Action has also been taken to constitute District and Taluk Level Integration Councils to facilitate maintenance of communal harmony at the District and Taluk Level.
  1. The District Integration Council is chaired by the District in-charge Minister and the Taluk Integration Council is chaired by the local M.L.A.
  1. The District Level Peace Committees have been re-activated in all the Districts.  District Superintendents of Police have been instructed to organize District Level Peace Committee meetings, at least once in two months.
  1. Mohalla Level Peace Committees also have been constituted, police station-wise, in communally sensitive cities of Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad and Mangalore.  Mohalla Level Peace Committee meetings are held at least once a month.
  1. While our State is making all efforts and also succeeding in maintaining communal harmony, we have serious concerns about the proposed Prevention of Communal Violence Bill.  In fact the very idea of having a Central Legislation to tackle a State subject, itself goes against the very spirit of our Constitution.  Law and Order has always been the responsibility of the States and our federal framework allows individual governments to deal with the sensitive issues pertaining to Communal Disputes in a manner suitable and relevant to that particular State.  A Central Legislation would not only infringe on the powers of the State Governments but also could lead to being politically misused by the Central Government.
  1. The issues pertaining to various communities, be it religious or linguistic differ from State to State.  Similarly the very definition of a minority group could change across the regions.  A linguistic or religious minority group in one region could be a majority group in another region.  Whereas, the proposed Bill presumes that there is uniformity in the groups across regions.  This very approach is flawed and needs to be discarded.
  1. I have no hesitation to say that the proposed bill is one sided and clearly biased against the majority community.  It appears that the offences committed by the Members of the majority community against members of the minority community are punishable whereas identical offences committed by the minority groups against the majority are treated much more lightly.   The Bill presumes that no member of the majority community can be a victim and that minority groups are always the victims.  Such presumptions are highly erroneous and if institutionalized in the form of a law could lead to irreparable polarization of the society.  The proposed Bill could in fact do more harm to communal harmony rather than serve as a deterrent to communal violence.
  1. We also feel that the proposed Act has several implementation issues and is unworkable at the ground level.  The proposed National and State Authorities under this Act will have sweeping powers and could become instruments which could be misused for political ends either by the Central Government or the concerned State Governments.
  1. In the above circumstances, it is clear that the proposed Bill has several deficiencies and certainly requires serious consultations with the State Governments as well as the public at large.
  1. The State Government is taking adequate steps to tackle the issue of terrorism in our State.  The internal security division of the state police department is being re-structured and strengthened to effectively combat terrorism and naxalism.
  1. The internal security division is headed by a police officer of the rank of Additional Director General of Police.  This Division will have functions of both intelligence collection and operational capability through trained and dedicated counter terror teams to deal with terror related incidents.
  1. The naxal activity in Karnataka was witnessed in the bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh namely Gulbarga, Raichur, Bidar and Tumkur during 80’s and 90’s, which spread to the Malnad (Western Ghats) region recently. It is feared that this menace will spread to the tri-junction of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the coming days.
  1. The Anti Naxal Force (ANF) and the Coastal Security Police (CSP) essentially perform anti-terror functions.  With a view to club all anti-terror units under the one umbrella organization, it is proposed to merge these two units with the Internal Security Division.
  1. Similarly, a specialized unit called, the Karnataka State Industrial Security Force has been established for securing the vital installations of the State.
  1. Though, Karnataka is not getting central grants to fight Maoist insurgency, the State with its own resources, is containing the menace by adopting a two pronged strategy by way of strong pressure on the cadres by consistent police action and increased developmental initiatives.
  1. Public awareness campaign in naxal affected areas are being held regularly, which has led to increased awareness and confidence among the public. Land reforms have been effectively implemented and rehabilitation measures have also been taken up.
  1. Youth have been trained in various self employment schemes which has given them a regular means of livelihood.
  1. Free education is being provided to the students and health camps are being regularly held to ensure proper medical care in the tribal areas.
  1. Government of Karnataka has also formulated and implemented a Surrender and Rehabilitation Policy for the naxals in the State, which has proved to be very useful in luring some of the activists to the main stream of life.
  1. However, since the State of Andhra Pradesh has also now been brought under the SWRB by the Maoists, it is expected that the Naxal menace will spread further south.  There is therefore a need to bring Karnataka under the Central Special Schemes to deal with the unlawful activity.
  1. In the last three years, our Government has taken several initiatives to ensure peace and order in the State. Communal incidents are under check and decreasing year by year. While the number of communal incidents between 2000 and 2007 varied between 16 to 26 per year, in the last three years of our Government, these incidents have come down from 13 in the first year to 8 last year.
  2. Our Government is fully committed to the welfare of minority communities. Several initiatives have been taken to bring the minorities to the main stream of development.
  1. The budget allocation for the minority welfare programmes has been enhanced year after year. While Rs.97 crore was the allocation in 2007-08, our Government increased it to Rs.207 crore during 2010-11 and Rs.326 crore has been earmarked for the year 2011-12.
  1. Earnest efforts are being made to improve the relations with the neighbouring States. The vexed issue of unveiling the statues of Kannada Saint Poet Sarvajna in Chennai and Tamil Philosopher Poet Tiruvalluvar in Bangalore, which was pending for over 18 years, has been amicably solved. This has led to the rekindling of the spirit of brotherhood and harmony among the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  1. The Second World Kannada Conference which was held in Belgaum in the month of March 2011, was a huge success with the active support and participation of the Marathi speaking people of the border district. It has opened a new era of friendship and co-operation between the Kannadigas and Marathas.
  1. Thus, the pro-active measures taken by the State Government has enabled the citizens of Karnataka to live in peace and harmony.  The State Government is committed to maintaining communal harmony and integrity of the Nation as enumerated in the Constitution of India.
  1. I, earnestly suggest that the Government of India should be more pro-active in extending assistance to the State Governments to tackle the increased terrorist threats, especially those funded and supported by external forces.
  1. In my opinion, there is also a strong need for greater degree of co-ordination between Central and State Intelligence Agencies.
  2. I take this opportunity to assure maximum co-operation and support of my Government in the country’s endeavour to promote National Integration and Communal Harmony.
  1. I thank the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister for giving me this opportunity to share my views.

THANK YOU  JAI HIND

DV SADANANDA GOUDA