The road to hell is almost always paved with noble intentions. In the Indian democracy, this has been proven true a countless number of times. I am afraid we shall be headed yet again towards hellish times if a new policy that is being currently debated manages to become law, thanks to the super secular denizens of India whose intensity and range of noble intentions usually matches the mayhem that the same noble intentions often trigger.
If this Bill becomes law, only Hindus will be tried, convicted and sentenced for communal violence and incitement of communal hatred because the Constitution will refuse to accept that Muslims and Christians are capable of violence and hatred. If this Bill becomes law, any anonymous complainant can file a police case against a Hindu for inciting communal hatred – and the police will have to register it as a non-bailable offence. The accused – who would be arrested – would not even have the right to know who the complainant is. And the accused Hindu will virtually be presumed to be guilty unless he or she can prove his her innocence. A Hindu activist who complains against fanatic Christian missionaries (Believe me, there are many of them out there) converting tribals through inducements and bribes will be sent behind bars; the Christian missionary who openly calls Hindus ‘heathens’ or ‘Kafirs’ and tramples upon idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses will be forever found innocent by the Indian Constitution.
That was as far as Hindus are concerned. But it is not just about them. Every other clause in the Bill seems flawed. The definition of ‘Hate Propaganda’ is designed to give the government draconian powers and curb freedom of speech. The bill seems to be made on the basis of a dictatorial approach which assumes the accused guilty until proven innocent, and this is totally unconstitutional. Then, of course, it talks about the formation of a ‘National Authority’, a new power centre for harassment.So, now you see where noble intentions can lead up to. I have no doubt whatsoever that activists, do-gooders and others of their ilk, right up to the members of the NAC, genuinely want to protect minorities from communal riots and violence. I have also no doubt that a majority of them – I am deliberately not saying all of them – harbour a peculiar and inexplicable hatred towards all aspects of Hinduism.But ask yourself honestly: Is this Bill going to promote communal harmony in the country? I would have simply laughed out loudly and derisively if the matter had not been not so serious and potentially devastating for India. And frankly, how does one define minorities? There are many districts and towns in India where Muslims or Christians outnumber Hindus. Who will then be blamed for communal violence and riots? If one were to suppose there are riots in two towns in Uttar Pradesh – one with a Muslim majority and one with a Hindu majority… What will the police do in both these cases? Arrest only Hindus because the Indian law will state so?Moving beyond the Bill and the disastrous impact it will have on India if it becomes law, I must also point out one thing that is peculiar to the Congress party and the Gandhi family in particular. The readers of The Sunday Indian will know that I am quite an admirer of the Gandhi family, due to my particular fondness for the promise that Rajiv Gandhi held. I have never had any doubts about their contribution to the India story. And yet, they have had this strange tendency to depend on and promote advisors and Kitchen Cabinets – a move that has often cost them dearly in political terms.Indira Gandhi had a series of advisors who came from a non-political background. They were committed Indians. And yet, it is they who are responsible for the monstrous license-permit raj in India that is primarily responsible for the endless corruption. Rajiv Gandhi too had many bright advisors who had no interest in electoral politics. And look at what they did first with the Shah Bano case, then the Ayodhya case and finally the Bofors issue. I fear Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are in danger of committing the same mistake. It was Shah Bano and Ayodhya during the Rajiv era that eventually propelled the BJP to power in Delhi. It could be the Communal Violence Bill in the Sonia and Rahul era that could yet again hand over the keys of Delhi to the BJP.I will sum up by saying that communal harmony cannot be brought about with such discriminatory bills. It can be brought about by providing access to education and equal opportunities for a dignified living. It’s time the government thinks about such methods instead of passing such draconian bills or for that matter increasing internal security budgets etc. to fight the menace of naxalism. Access to equitable policies and right to a dignified living will take care of most of the problems that the government seems so clueless about.