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Sonia writes to PM over riots

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | June 27, 2003 19:37 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to say that administrative and legal initiatives could alleviate the threat of communal violence.

"The existence of political will to combat and subdue such violence is the primary requirement for communal harmony," she said, adding a conducive administrative and legal environment was also necessary in addition to such a will.

Gandhi said during the recent Congress chief ministers' conference, she had raised the issue with her party colleagues and they had decided to extend support if it increased the effectiveness of some of these initiatives.

She emphasised that 'the time is ripe' for a national and state-level codification of measures for the relief and rehabilitation of riot victims.

These measures should particularly include the institution of a mechanism to disburse prompt and uniform compensation to riot victims and their families and should have guidelines for action against officials who fail to control riots within a reasonable period, she said.

She emphasised the setting up of citizens' peace committee in every district and police station with the involvement of the district administrative and political machinery.

The Congress chief wanted the amendment of the existing legal and punitive provisions covering offences relating to communal violence.

This was to facilitate enhancing the period of imprisonment for those convicted of offences against communal harmony; treating offences against communal harmony like any other cognisable offence and setting up special courts for trying such offences.

In this context, she said, the provisions of the National Security Act could be widened to allow preventive detention of a person if he was perceived to be a threat to communal harmony.

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