As the Parliament continues to debate on the issue of ‘rising intolerance’, Modi government has rejected the contention that certain incidents of communal violence is a larger reflection of the prevailing alleged intolerance in the country. Replying to queries in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, MoS Home Kiren Rijiju claimed that the number of communal incidents have declined to a good extent ever since BJP-led NDA government has come to power.
“Although it has been brought out in various fora, the prevailing communal situation in the country does not indicate existence of alleged intolerance in the country,” Kiren Rijiju said.
The MoS Home even went to cite the figures, claiming that number of communal incidents in the country in recent years have been 668 in 2012, 823 in 2013 and 644 in 2014.
For the second day, the lower house witnessed a passionate exchange between the Treasury and Opposition benches as they debated on the communal situation. Amid heated exchanges, Mr. Rijijiu admitted that there has been some rise in incidents between 2014 and 2015, but compared to 2013, they have come down.
In his written reply to the house, MoS Home said that in 2014, 644 ‘communal incidents’ took place, including 133 in UP, 72 in Rajasthan, 97 in Maharashtra, 56 in Madhya Pradesh, 73 in Karnataka, 10 in Jharkhand, 74 in Gujarat, 7 in Delhi, 61 in Bihar and 16 in West Bengal. While, so far in this year, between January and October, 650 incidents have taken place with a maximum of 139 taking place in Uttar Pradesh, followed with 97 from Maharashtra, 86 from Madhya Pradesh, 79 from Karnataka, 24 from Jharkhand, 47 from Gujarat, 59 from Bihar and 24 from West Bengal.
The principal opposition party, however, questioned the government with its leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge contending that there have been more communal clashes in states where BJP has “more presence” such as Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar.
But Rijiju rejected the charges saying, “It is not a fair comment. What Kharge says does not tally with the figures…. It is the responsibility of state government or MPs”.
“The responsibility of dealing with communal violence as per the provisions of extant laws rests primarily with the respective state government,” he added claiming that primary responsibility of maintaining law and order rests with the state governments and the Centre assists them in a variety of ways such as sharing of intelligence, sending alerts, advisories and deploying central forces after consulting them.
He also disagreed with TMC member Saugata Roy, who sought to know if Narendra Modi-led government has any plans to “control” remarks of ruling party members which “fuel communal differences”.
Responding to the query raised by Congress MP Sushmita Dev on whether the government will come up with a fresh definition of communal riots based on the statement of Home Minister Rajnath Singh that secularism actually means ‘panth nirpeksh’ and not ‘dharma nirpeksh’, the MoS Home said as of now there is “no proposal” to change the definition.
(With inputs from the PTI)