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Communal riots: Heated exchanges between CPM and BJP in RS

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, May 16 (UNI) Tempers ran high and tongues waxed eloquent in the Rajya Sabha today as a short duration discussion on communal riots in Vadodara and other parts of the country witnessed a heated exchange of words between the CPM and BJP members.

''I do not need a certificate of patriotism from those who follow the assassins of Mahtama Gandhi,'' was the curt reply of CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri who was repeatedly interrupted by some BJP members during his half-an-hour speech on the emotive issue in the House.

The remark from the CPM Polit Bureau member triggered vociferous protests from the opposition benches. Some of the BJP members even went into the well of the House and argued with Deputy Chairman K Rehman Khan.

Mr Arun Jaitley tried to raise a point of order and also demanded a ruling from the Chair, which was subsequently turned down.

During the pandemonium, CPM leader Brinda Karat was heard saying that the opposition should not expect the Left members to ''accept everything'' lying low.

Earlier participating in the debate, Mr Yechuri minced no words in saying that ''we would not tolerate any further communal riots in the country, irrespective of the political nature of administration.'' Launching an acerbic attack on the Gujarat government for allowing the demolition of a dargah in Vadodara, he said the insensitive handling of the entire issue was mainly responsible for the resultant communal riots there.

Referring to the dargah, he said the 1912 records of Siyajee Maharaj, the then ruler of Vadodara, clearly proved that the Sufi shrine was 385-year-old.

"The dargah was not an encroachment, rather it was the road leading to the shrine that was an encroachment," he said.

He said The Places of Worship Act, 1993, which was approved by Parliament, stipulated that no religious structure that existed before 1947 would be disturbed.

''Instead of resolving the dargah dispute through dialogue and compromise, the Vadodara Administration preferred to raze it down...Efforts were under way to settle the dispute but reports point out that it was deliberately scuttled,'' he remarked.

Mr Yechuri also referred to the people who were jailed under the now-defunct POTA in the wake of the Sabarmati train blaze in Gujarat.

''The recommendations of the POTA Review Committe said that most of the people held under POTA could have been tried under normal laws, but these were never implemented,'' he said.

The remark drew strong rebuttal from Mr Arun Jaitley, who observed that it amounted to the executive passing orders to the judiciary.

An undeterred Mr Yechuri said that ''we have not only to be alert but to also ensure that such communal riots are not repeated.'' UNI SKS RP HT1900

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