PM urges states to crack down on those fanning communal strife, curb misuse of social media

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, September 23, 2013

Communal violence poses threat for democracy: PM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today told state governments to crack down on those fanning communal strife and urged political parties and the media to refrain from politicising communal violence.
Addressing the 16th meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) here, he also stressed the need to curb the misuse of social media by those aiming to create tension among different communities and groups.
The meeting was held just a fortnight after the communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and neighbouring districts of Uttar Pradesh, in which more than 50 people lost their lives and more than 100 were injured.
Dr Singh said that today's meeting assumed added significance against the background of the Muzaffarnagar incidents and in view of the spurt in such incidents in different parts of the country, including the North-East, Jammu & Kashmr, Bihar, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh.
He said these incidents pointed to a poison in the minds of some people which was against the tradition of communal peace and harmony in the country and urged the people to ponder over such developments seriously.
He said it was sad that a minor incident had blown up into a major conflagration in Muzaffarnagar leading to the loss of more than 50 lives, injuries to more than 100 others and the loss of public and private property worth crores of rupees.
He referred to the incidents in the North-East last year and said the Government had taken steps to reduce tension and to provide relief and rehabilitation for those affected by the violence.
Dr Singh said anti-national elements were clearly trying to exploit minor incidents between people fo different communities and fan communal violence. He said such forces posed a major challenge to India's democratic polity and declared that the Government was determined to combat them with all the power at its command.
He said state governments must deal with communal incidents without any loss of time and in an unbiased and resolute manner. He said they must ensure that the local administrations react swiftly to small incidents before they get out of control and that the strictest possible punishment is meted out swiftly to those responsible for indulging in and fanning communal violence.
He said the state governments must use the full force at their command to tackle such situations, and act without fear or favour against those responsible, irrespective of how powerful they may be and which political party they belong to.
Dr Singh said the state must be seen to be acting in accordance with the law in such matters so that all groups retain their faith in the system and know that they can live with dignity like their fellow citizens.
He said that government officials should be aware that any lapse in handling communal incidents would not be tolerated and that they would be personally held responsible if the situation got out of hand.
He also the current discussions about which political parties would gain or lose in the coming elections from communal violence was unfortunate. He said nobody could gain from creating communal hatred and such situations would call into question India's status as a civilized nation.
He urged all political parties as well as the media to refrain from politicising communal incidents and trying to gain political mileage from them.
Dr Singh also expressed concern about the growing incidents of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other vulnerable sections, even after 60 years of independence. He said that more than 10,000 such incidents had been registered in the past three years and called for strict action against those responsible. He also said such groups must be strengthened socially and economically so that they become part of the mainstream in society.
He said India's economic development would be complete and satisfactory only if its benefits reached the common man and all weaker sections. He said the lack of equal opportunities for the poorer and weaker sections was a major impediment to the nation's progress.
Stressing that no group could be allowed to feel alienated from the mainstream, he said the Government had taken several steps for the welfare of the waker sections so that they could share in the benefits of progress. He referred to, in particular, the Manual Scavening Rehabilitation Bill which, he said, would put an end to this inhuman practice.
The Prime Minister said social and economic inequities were still a major challenge for the country and there was need to reduce such disparities.
He also said it was a matter of shame that crimes against women, such as rape, were on the rise..need to pay attention to reduce disparities and stressed that no country could make real progress if ifs women could not move about in public spaces without fear or hesitation and choose their own paths to social and economic development.
He noted that the Government had recently got the law amended to provide for harsher punishment for crimes against women. He said the police and other agencies must implement such laws effectively. He said, simultaneously, there was a need for a change in the mindset of the people so that such crimes are reduced.
Dr Singh said India was part of a globalised world where borders had ceased to have meaning in many matters. He referred to the circulation of fake videos to fan violence in the recent incidents in Muzaffarnagar as well to create panic among people of the North-east living in different parts of India last year and called for steps to prevent the misuse of social media by anti-national elements.
He acknowledged that social media helped to bring new knowledge and new ideas to young people, but such media should be used to build mutual trust and brotherhood. He said it was important to protect the freedom that social media provided to the people to freely express their views and ideas. At the same time, he said, it was necessary that mischief-mongers must be barred from using social media for their nefarious purposes.

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