Calling on its constituents to mobilise public support against the “draconian piece of law in the making”, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has demanded recall of the Communal Violence (Prevention and Rehabilitation of Victims) bill 2009. A resolution condemning the bill “which would in effect curb the civic rights of the minorities” was unanimously passed at the 21st annual convention of AIMPLB. “Nothing short of scrapping the bill will do,” board general secretary Abdul Rahim Qureshi announced on March 21. “What is urgently required is a complete redraft in consultation with the representative bodies and secular minded people.”
The AIMPLB will wage a country-wide campaign against the proposed amendments to the Communal Violence Bill which seek to give more powers to men in uniform.
“The police force throughout the country is biased against Muslims… any arbitrary powers given to them would be extremely harmful for the community,” Mr. Qureshi said. “We oppose amendments to the Communal Violence Bill which would give extraordinary powers to the police in riot situations,” he said.
The basic objection pertained to an unbridled authority granted to the police and administrative officers under the Bill, Mr. Qureshi said. “Conferring such power on law-enforcing agencies would only amount to the curtailment of the civic rights. It’ll also result in untold misery to the Muslim community which has always suffered worst during any riot or communal skirmish,” he said quoting the resolution.
The board, he said, has convened a meeting of its select delegates including its MP and MLA members in Delhi in mid-April to have further discussions on the issue. Later, a memorandum will be sent to the Centre for desired action, he said.
The AIMPLB also berated the “harassment and witch-hunting of Muslim youth in the name of counter-terrorism measures”. The number of fake cases implicating this class is growing, said Qureshi. There are umpteen reported instances in our knowledge where young men from the minority community were arrested, tortured and put behind the bars though later released by the courts as the charges couldn’t be substantiated. “This must stop,” he said, adding that the same abominable trend being observed globally was also a matter of grave concern.
The Islamic scholars attending the AIMPLB session noted that in almost all incidents of rioting, minorities became the worst sufferers. Some board members also mentioned the Batla House encounter, charging the police with shooting down innocent youngsters in the name of a terrorist threat.
“The experience with the Armed Forces Special Power Act in Jammu and Kashmir is before us… we will fight against any such amendments with all our might,” he said.
Rajya Sabha MP Mohd Adeeb and Lok Sabha MP Sahfiq-ur-Rahman Barq, who were present during the deliberations, assured the board of all support.
On the Babri mosque demolition case, the AIMPLB maintained that it wanted day-to-day hearing of the case and speedy disposal of the trial. It also questioned the delay in registering cases against those found guilty by the Liberhan Commission. The board has demanded that the Centre expedite legal proceedings in the case. “The Liberhan Commission has identified those guilty of the mosque demolition… why is the government soft-pedalling the issue?” Mr. Qureshi asked.
The Board has asked the government of India to stop softening its posture towards Israel. The board stopped short of asking India to snap diplomatic ties with Israel but took strong exception to ‘closer cooperation’ between the two countries.
“The Board wants that India should pursue the policy of Jawaharlal Nehru where Israel is concerned. In recent years, there have been close links between IB and Mossad and India has been advised by America to buy arms from Israel. We certainly do not appreciate this. India should serve its own interests rather than those of America or Israel,” said Mr. Qureshi.