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We are all Indians, Supreme Court reacts to MNS stir

November 06, 2008 19:12 IST
Last Updated: November 06, 2008 19:13 IST

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In the wake of the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's hate campaign against north Indians and non-Marathis, the Supreme Court on Thursday struck a patriotic note by saying that "all of us are Indians" and there is no difference between people coming from various regions.

"What's the difference between north Indians and Indians? All of us are Indians," a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi quipped, while posting for Monday a PIL seeking judicial inquiry into the killing of a Bihari youth, Rahul Raj, in a police encounter and the murder of another north Indian in Mumbai last month.

On Tuesday the apex court had observed that if there was a "political will" such hate campaign would not occur in the country. It had also cited Article 355 to drive home the point that the Union government had adequate powers to give necessary directions to the State to prevent such incidents.

The bench of Justices Aggrawal and Singhvi said it would hear the matter along with another related PIL which had earlier sought appropriate directions to the government to ensure that the country's unity was not threatened by vested interests fomenting regional chauvinism.

Incidentally, the apex court had directed the petitioners in both cases to suitably amend their petition and come before it when the matter is taken up for further hearing.

During the brief arguments on Thursday, the petitioner, Sanjeev Kumar Singh, submitted that he was compelled to approach the Supreme Court as the authorities in Maharashtra had failed to respond to his request for providing adequate protection to north Indians in the state.

"When I made representation to all senior officials including the Mumbai police commissioner, I was threatened that I would meet the same fate if I do not get out of the place," Singh told the bench after being asked as to why he did not approach the authorities concerned with his plea.

Singh asserted that he had every right to approach the apex court as a number of his relatives staying in Maharashtra were under constant fear due to the ongoing hate campaign.

The apex court queried Singh as to whether he was aware that Article 355 of the Constitution to which the latter replied in the affirmative and read out the portion in the court on the advice of the bench.

According to Article 355, 'It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every state is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.'

Rahul Raj, 23-year-old resident of Patna was killed in a shootout in a BEST bus on October 27 and a day later Dharam Dev Rai (25), a resident of Faizabad in UP, was beaten to death on a local train in Mumbai.

On Tuesday, the apex court had observed that the issue was political in nature and "political will" was required to curb it.

"Can it be done through an order of this court? It is a political question, not a court issue. If there is a political will it can be tackled," a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi observed.

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