The Saga of Communal Speeches and Provocation by ‘the Powerful’ By Fr. Anand Muttungal
09 Sep 2010
The Indian saga of communal clashes and provocative speeches by people vested with power; dates back to first assault on Buddhists by King Pusyamitra Sunga in 180 BCE. He declared hundred dinara,(Money of that time), for those brings the head of a Buddhist monk. It is also believed that Muslim and Christian religious propagators too made many provocative speeches and violence against the followers of other religions.
It is also a historical fact that many non-Christian leaders have used shadow of missionaries and forced conversion stories to mobilize people against British rule. In the modern history we find the use of historical images of Muslim rulers who worked against other religions, terrorism and bad stories related to Missionaries to mobilize people against both religions. We need to look into the communal issues from this point of view. Some say that they are taking revenge for the past, if this to be true then; will there be a limit to the revenge by women who were denied many natural rights including study and were forced to have SATI and the SC/ ST who faced inhuman treatment?
Elected representatives to different strata of democracy have been dividing society through their hate campaign for very long time. Khanapur MLA (BJP) Prahlad Remane’s outburst against Christians during Independence Day speech at the official function held in front of the local Tahsildar’s office has to be seen from the light of the past history. He asked people to weed out Christians because their presence across the country will be dangerous. The reason he said was that they are engaged in conversion. A Congress Member of Parliament from Andhra Pradesh, V. Hanumantha Rao reported to have said that those who read the Bible are unfit and useless for politics, they must sit at home and read Bible. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is known for his provocative speeches against Muslims. Besides them there are many elected members on the line.
Article 18(1) of the Constitution of India states that ‘elected office bearers are required to take an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and an oath of secrecy. It reads, "I hereby solemnly affirm on oath (or swear in the name of god) that I shall uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, and bow to the sovereignty of the people of India. I shall faithfully abide by the Constitution and discharge the duties entrusted to me without fear, favour or ill will.” They are the custodians of this secular constitution to protect the Constitutional Rights of the people without having prejudice to caste, creed or colour. Are these elected members abiding by the constitution? If they violate the constitution, have they got any right to continue in office as elected members?
We also have a licensed brand of communal offenders who keep on speaking against linguistic and religious minorities , Dalits and Tribals. Among these high profile leaders members of Thackery family and Togodia are in the forefront. They go on with offending through hate speeches and writings. We have the law but it is never enforced sincerely. Indian Penal Code 153, 153(A), 295 and 505 deal with promotion of religious animosity. They are used against any one making such provocative speeches and writings. The whole trouble is that to initiate action against any high profile leader the ruling government has to give permission to prosecute.
Considering these facts the secular activists and legal experts have been asking the State Governments and Centre Government to empower themselves to deal with such problems in the Communal Violence Bill 2005. The Bill must have all direct and indirect communal crimes such as ‘hate speeches and mobilisation; spreading ill-will and distrust between communities; communal literature and textbooks as well as classroom teaching; forced ghettoisation and expulsion and exclusion from mixed settlements; discrimination in employment, tenancy, admission to educational institutions etc on communal grounds; discrimination on communal grounds by professionals like doctors and lawyers; and so on.’ These sort of wide approaches to communal issues only can help this society to weed out communal religious and socio-political leaders. It is right time the religious leaders; social activists and secular minded politicians crossing their political lineage come forward to defend our democracy against such leaders.