UPA’s prioritizing of minorities: Dismembering India’s secular fabric

published on March 26, 2013

The government’s proposal of setting up special courts that ensure speedy trial and justice of innocent youths of Muslim community who are ‘falsely implicated in terror cases, arrested and jailed’ was announced on 24 March, 2013. The move exposes the raw truth once again: far from ushering in justice in its true forms, the proposal aims at Congress’ favourite pastime: minority appeasement.

It is apparent that the hasty move made by the Congress headed UPA comes close on the heels of another drama that unfolded in the country’s national capital: the arrest of Liyaqat Shah, a former Hizbul terrorist who claims to be under an apparent metamorphosis.

Liyaqat Shah’s arrest came in the wake of intelligence agencies having gathered enough material pointing to a mass terror strike in Delhi on the day of Holi. The Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested Liyaqat when he entered the city from Nepal, carrying a Pakistani passport. In Kashmir, records show that he was associated with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Al Barq, having crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 1996. Even though he returned to the Valley, he went back again in 2007.

The arrested suspect however claims to be on the reformation track, harbouring desires of rejoining mainstream society as part of a rehabilitation policy of Jammu and Kashmir government for surrendered militants. In support of Liyaqat came Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah (the same Omar Abdullah who referred to Afzal Guru as ‘Saheb’), who sought details about the arrest of Syed Liyaqat Ali Shah.

And swiftly bending to the outburst comes the Centre’s hasty move of setting up the special court exclusively for Muslim youths, in a seemingly unconnected manner.

According to Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan, the proposal was put forth last month, taking into account those cases, where “young men were incarcerated for 10 to 14 years as undertrials and then finally acquitted by the courts.”

Rahman Khan’s proposal calls for ‘strong action’ against officers held responsible for filing such cases. Along with this comes the Home Ministry’s promise of taking up the cases of innocents who have terror charges slapped on them.

Taking into consideration the new legal facility for members of the Muslim community, common citizens cannot help asking a few imminent doubts- the legal gift clearly states that members of the minority community, who are “falsely implicated” in terror cases will be tried in these special courts. In such a situation, questions arise:

• Will the ‘accused’ undergo a regular trial, following which it will be declared that the ‘accused’ is ‘falsely implicated’?
• If ‘no’, isn’t it a serious allegation that the Indian judiciary, indirectly referring to it as acutely flawed?
• Will there be a community angle in the installation of the new legal set up?
• What will the yardstick of determining justice be?

In wake of these recent developments, the inevitable question put forth time and again crops up: does a democratic country like India need ‘special’ slots for a particular religion? Special laws, reservations, special status for Madrasas- all come under the UPA’s proffer of bounty for the Muslim community. Adding to this is the controversial Communal Violence Bill.

The proposed move by the UPA government is diametrically opposite to the message it constantly and painstakingly issues via a seemingly favourite ‘secular tinged’ ‘strain: “terror has no religion.”

Greed for garnering more votes via its precious vote bank, the Congress led UPA has put the country’s constitutional rights in jeopardy. Will the Congress led UPA pause and realize that the actual need of the hour is the assigning of fast track courts, authorized to deal exclusively with terror cases, irrespective of any affiliation?

In a country declared ‘secular’ and ‘democratic’ by the constitution, where the government is bound to treat all religious beliefs and practices with equal respect and honor, the move which certainly stands unwarranted, only seeks to further dismember the nation’s integral yarn.

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