Authorities must be liable for not acting: Citizens

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New Delhi, Jan 19 (UNI) Repeated riots and organised attacks are making India's ''minority communities'' increasingly insecure, spokesmen said today, stressing steps to ''meet the threat posed by the Hindutva elements.'' A resolution adopted after hours of discussion presided over by former Chief Justice of India A M Ahmadi urged the Central government to help ''develop a culture of courage.'' The discussion on 'Issues of Insecurity of Minorities and Efficacy of Law' at India International Centre was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies.

Speakers included another former CJI, Justice V N Khare, and former Dehi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar, Prof Iqbal A Ansari, Senior Advocate Yousuf Hatim Muchchala, Father Domnique Emmanuel and Dr Abusaleh Shariff.

Participants specifically voiced concerns about such situations as Gujarat and Orissa and called for laws to make authorities liable for ''non-action in such matters.'' The resolution said that ''hate campaigns having become a regular feature of certain groups to meet their political ends, there should be zero tolerance towards such dangerous activities by the authorities.

''Appropriate legislation be enacted making authorities liable for their nonaction in such matters,'' it said, without specifying Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the 2002 Gujarat riots cited by several speakers.

Justice Ahmadi regretted that the Indian National Congress had failed in recent elections to point out Modi's weaknesses and its own strengths.

He referred to the attacks on Christians and their churches and hostels in Orissa, saying minorities were being marginalised and their voices silenced by instilling in them a sense of insecurity. ''The culture of impunity is growing.'' The Indian authorities' failure to punish the perpetrators of the train fire at Godhra and subsequent Gujarat killings evoked a call ''to make the law more efficient.'' Speakers also called for giving all communities equal representation in such institutions as judiciary which currently exists on paper but presumably not in practice. ''De facto doctrine of equality should be given to minorities,'' Justice Khare said.

Senior advocate Yusuf Hatim Muchhala spoke of judicial insensitivity in allowing delays in dealing with even a request to transfer some of the cases out of Gujarat.

The resolution called for putting the Human Rights regime ''in its right place through legal literacy and accountability of administrative and enforcement agencies incorporating the principle of command responsibility.'' The resolution said the Bilkis Bano case transferred from Gujarat to Maharashtra at the Supreme Court's directions proved that when a citizen takes courage to assert her human rights, ''justice is meted out.'' It recorded how ''insults are heaped on Christians and Churches... destroyed in Orissa with impunity and their properties and lives are destroyed'' and underscored measures for controlling violence in ''sensitive'' localities and regions.

It also emphasised administrative ethics and accountability to prevent communal violence and loss of life and property of minorities, making it incumbent on the civil society to play its role in curbing hate encouraged by vested interests.

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