Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: While admitting that sustaining communal harmony is a big challenge, Prime Minister Dr Manomhan Singh on Monday reiterated his government`s commitment to fight communal forces trying to weaken the country`s secular fabric and promised all steps to contain them.
"NIC meet is significant as it is taking place just after Muzaffarnagar riots, which claimed over 50 lives, rendered thousands homeless and devastated properties worth several hundred crores. Recently there have been incidents of violence across India, in Muzaffarnagar, Kishtwar, Assam... such incidents are worrying." PM said.
Referring to the Muzaffarnagar riots, the Prime Minister said, "Rising incidents of communal violence have been witnessed in Uttar Pradesh. How did small localised incident in UP become a riot?"
"We need to sustain communal harmony," the PM stressed adding, "Local administration must take strong action against those responsible for communal violence."
The PM made these remarks while inaugurating the National Integration Council (NIC) meeting called in the aftermath of the communal violence in the Muzaffarnagar that claimed the lives of over 40 people.
Putting the onus on the state government to restore law and order, Dr Singh said, "Onus lies on state governments to control violence. Governments should do everything to act against those who are responsible for inciting communal violence, no matter how powerful they are."
Cautioning the political parties not to politicise such issues for electoral gains, the Prime Minister said, "The communal tension should not be politicised for cheaper gains. Any individual from any party involved in violence will be punished."
Shifting his focus to rising cases of violence against women Dr Singh said, "A nation can only progress when women in the country can go to public places without fear. It is shameful that crime against women is on the rise."
We made changes in the law to ensure safety and security of women, he reminded the august gathering.
Driving his point further the Prime Minister stressed, "Atrocities against the weaker sections of the society are also worrisome. We can`t let any weaker section feel that they are not part of the mainstream."
Nearly 10,000 cases of violence were registered against SCs and ST`s this year, the PM added.
On the misuse of social media, the PM said, "Social media is a platform to express views and ideas, not to misinform. However, it has been used to fan communal violence. We must find a way to stop its misuse."
Dr Singh, while stating that anti national forces are challenging our democracy, said, "Anti social elements must not be allowed to use social networking sites."
He stressed that social media can be used to foster brotherhood and unity.
The Prime Minister also called on the need to discuss threadbare the growing incidents of communal violence and the ways to strengthen the secular fabric of the country.
Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP`s 2014 PM candidate Narendra Modi skipped the crucial meet. Meanwhile, BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh also decided not to attend the meet.
Among others who are attending the crucial meet are Union Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Chief Ministers of several States and Union Territories.
The NIC has nearly 150 members.
The NIC meeting assumes significance as the country has witnessed 451 incidents of communal violence till August-end this year, in comparison to 410 incidents last year.
The Uttar Pradesh Government has constituted a one-member judicial commission to probe Muzaffarnagar violence, which claimed at least 40 lives.
The commission, which would mainly look into administrative lapses, if any, in controlling the violence, would submit its report to the government within two months.
The proposed Communal Violence Bill, opposed by some states as it envisages empowering the central government to send central forces unilaterally in case of communal disturbances, is also expected to be discussed in the meeting.
Steps taken to tackle crimes against SCs/STs, associating all sections of society in removing inter-caste tension will also be discussed in the day-long meeting convened after two years.
With Agency inputs