Home I Index

PUCL Bulletin, April 2006

Varanasi blasts

-- By K G Kannabiran

The blasts, on prima facie examination, are attributed to the Islamic extremist organisations and should be condemned unequivocally. A Tuesday was chosen which I believe is an important day for worshipping Bajrangbali and naturally the temple would be crowded with worshippers. Whichever organization is responsible and for whatever reason, this kind of violence is not only to be condemned and investigated, the culprits have to be brought to book and proceeded against as expeditiously as possible.

Condemning the violence and stopping there has become a ritual which has neither improved the governance nor the civil society and the other institutions have been able to work out a strategy for eliminating the festering belligerence between the majority and the minority communities. There appears to be a vested interest in continuing this belligerence for maintaining our parliamentary system, which feed fattens on its vote banks.

It is important that we do not get back into the refrain of the old communal broken gramophone record of the usual accusations and counter accusations over the electronic media and elsewhere which merely confuses the people and obfuscates issues and perspectives whenever such incident occur. Muslims are the largest single minority in the country and it is their home and these should not be made scapegoats on account of the actions of some insane organisations. This incident calls for a reassurance (we do call for such assurance) from the intellectuals and senior citizens of all communities to publicly campaign against this cult of violence, where quite a few thousands have been killed, and for eschewing the play of religion in politics either overtly or covertly.

Very often in such saturations, wittingly or unwittingly, a lot of disinformation is passed around. We heard over the electronic media Arun Jetley saying that the internationally accepted POTA was needlessly repealed and that there is no law to prevent terrorism. I think it is not correct. He accused the UPA of hastily repealing the POTA of which his party was the architect. There was an election promise that POTA will be repealed by the UPA, just as earlier there was an election promise by BJP and TADA was repealed. BJP enacted POTA and said it has a human face. UPA enacted a law to repeal POTA by a separate enactment. There was even a saving clause providing for review of all pending cases under POTA. The UPA government wanted a new law to contain and counter terrorism while repealing the Act. Such a course would have invited vociferous adverse criticism and the alliance would have cut a sorry figure. Instead it copied Chapter II to VI of the POTA into Chapter IV to VII of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and amended the long title by adding after the word “association” the words “for dealing with terrorist activities”. By plagiarizing POTA they gain the advantage avoiding litigation about the constitutional validity of the law.

Such charades apart, fighting terrorism has to be taken up by the civil society

People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014