The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday came under attack in Lok Sabha from the Opposition which accused the ruling party of fuelling communalism, resulting in uproar in the House during a debate on communal violence.
Among those who targeted BJP were Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, E T Mohammed Basheer from the Indian Union Muslim League and Mohammad Asrarul Haque from the Congress.
The debate, which had been demanded by Congress whose leader Rahul Gandhi stormed the Well of the House last week, could not be replied to by Home Minister Rajnath Singh because of his indisposition.
The debate began on Wednesday evening and Singh was to reply on Thursday, but could not as he was hospitalised. Resuming the discussion, Yadav alleged that BJP was “responsible or behind” recent incidents of communal riots in Uttar Pradesh, where his party is in power.
His comment triggered strong protest from BJP and its allies, whose members were on their feet. Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai pleaded with the members not to “shout” in the middle of a speech and if they have objection they should raise it later.
“Communalism is dangerous for the country. Small matters lead to communal flare-up... We have been victims of communalism,” Yadav said.
He said there are two reasons for rise in communal tension in the country -- mutual distrust and minorities not getting enough facilities. There was loss of harmony in the country, he said, while demanding setting up of a committee to look into the incidence of violence.
He sought to downplay recent incidents of violence in Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar, claiming they were inter-community disputes and not riots. Yadav said, “Muzaffarnagar was not a communal riot. It was a dispute between two communities. It was a struggle between a caste and a community and people were murdered.”
He said, “Same thing happened in Saharanpur. There was a dispute over a land whether gurudwara and mosque was to be built. It was a dispute between two communities and people were killed.”
Within two days situation was brought under control and in no other state situation could be contained in such short time, Yadav added. Last month violent clashes broke out between two communities over a land dispute in Saharanpur. Violence had erupted last year too in Muzaffarnagar after killing of three youths.
Basheer also accused BJP of stimulating communal violence and trying to poison the minds of young generation in Gujarat by giving them lessons on Hinduism. He said the BJP government came to power by glorifying the Gujarat riots. “They (BJP) have to find out a way to control communal violence,” he said.
Citing apprehensions in the minds of minorities that they would have to hide if the BJP-led NDA came into power, Congress’s Mohammad Asrarul Haque said apprehension has come true. “There is an atmosphere of fear and minorities are feeling beleagured. Government should take steps to remove such apprehensions and preserve the constitutional rights of minorities,” Haque said.
People who are held for communal riots are not being punished, he said, and demanded that the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill be passed. Leader of Congress party Mallikarjun Kharge said since the Home Minister was unwell, the Prime Minister could have given the reply. He wished speedy recovery to Singh.
Image: Violence in Sahranpur. Photograph: Sandeep Pal