On lesser citizens

How can Amit Shah say that no Muslims are persecuted in neighbouring Muslim countries? What about the Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan? Are we to turn them away? Shia Muslims too may have a claim to our protection (‘What a sham’: How newspapers reported the passage of Citizenship Bill). We have such a proud history of saving lives. Are we going to push people off the rescue helicopter now? – Priya Adarkar


India is no longer a democratic or a secular nation. It has systematically become an apartheid state where only the bellicose right wing jingoism of Hindutva rules prevail (An uneasy silence among Indian Muslims marks the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill). This dangerous duo, Modi-Shah, is no different than Hitler and Himmler during the heady days of Nazism. Once again, the ugly head of the Aryan nation has risen in a once peaceful and beautiful land called India. – Usman Madha


Very surprisingly, there was a heated discussion in the Lok Sabha over the Citizenship Amendment Bill (Citizenship Bill: Writers and scholars warn of ‘untold suffering’ and irreparable damage to India). But to me, it is more important to dwell on the timing of its introduction rather than on the repercussions. It is known that the country is passing through a deepening economic slowdown, highest level of unemployment in decades, drought and floods in quick succession, mounting bank frauds, NPAs, collapse of mammoth enterprises, lay-offs across sectors, the aftermath of J & K annexation, huge fiscal deficit – all of which need multifaceted and comprehensive efforts. I believe the introduction of the bill should have been postponed. We must understand the difference in the tone of international voice too, unlike that in the case of abrogation of article 370 where we gathered international solidarity based on the merits of the issue. – Ramana Gove


The Citizen Amendment Bill is not against Muslim citizens of India. There is an international agenda to malign the bill (‘Dangerous turn’: US commission seeks sanctions against Amit Shah over Citizenship Bill). It is only for the poor, persecuted people living in Muslim-majority countries. Any US agency should have no right to interfere over the issue of bills passed in Indian parliament. – Tushar Mohan


You are wrong all the way. Read Narendra Singh Sarila’s book, The Untold Story of India’s Partition. And there is more – the Congress did agree to divide India solely on grounds of religion. The Muslims got their lands. Hindus were supposed to receive protection by the Indian Government in Pakistan. But the Congress did not carry out this obligation. Moreover, minority protection matters were incorporated into the Indian Constitution on the Congress’s assurance that such divisive matters would not be there forever. But such unfair laws are still alive, discriminating against Hindus solely on grounds of religion. – Amit Gupta


Warped justice

On December 6, India woke up to the news that the Telangana police, in an encounter, killed all the four men accused of raping and murdering the 26-year-old veterinarian (Hyderabad vet rape-murder: Law did its duty, say police after four accused killed in encounter). I was horrified that the news was not only real, but that a large section of the citizenry was commending the extra-judicial killings and pouring accolades upon the police.

One thing was abundantly clear: The police’s narrative that they were compelled to kill the accused in self-defence was implausible and outlandish. It raised several uneasy yet obvious questions such as: Why did the police have to undertake this crime-recreation business at that wee hour in the morning? If two of the accused accessed the police guns, why did the police not stop at restraining only those two who successfully accessed the guns? Why did the police not shoot at their legs instead?

Even more baffling than the apparent illegality of the police action is the public’s incogitable support to the police’s rendition of vigilante justice. People showered flowers on the police, women tied rakhis to them. The news channels broadcasted these grotesque jubilations on loop throughout the day. The justification for this kind of instant justice stems from the public’s lack of faith in the criminal justice system as a whole. As tempting as it is to buy into this justification or the perception that ‘they deserved what they got,’ there are manifestly more dangerous ramifications to this – the most dangerous one being that there is every possibility that the real culprits go scot-free, and the innocent ones wrongfully and unjustly pay with their lives.

Yet another dangerous ramification of police taking the law into their own hands is the possibility of an absolute misuse. Yesterday, there were encounters to deal with terrorism; today, there are encounters to deal with heinous crimes, and tomorrow there will be encounters to deal with petty thefts. It is unbecoming of a 70-plus year-old democracy for citizens to be in a constant threat of being encountered anytime. It is common sense that these encounters will do nothing to deter rapes and murders, or to mend the problem of toxic masculinity, or to revamp our criminal justice system.

In eulogising these encounters, the hypocrisy of the vast section of the public stands exposed. On the one hand, we rightfully condemned the violence inflicted by the four men upon the young woman. On the other, we are rejoicing the violence inflicted upon the four men by the police. Evidently, there appears to be no difference between the alleged rapists and murderers, and the vast section of the public who are rejoicing the encounters, given that both seem to enjoy, and feed into the violence. – Prarthana Kashinath


The crime was perpetrated and punishment was given.Though justice seems to have met to some extent, the suffering of the victims and their family members is beyond imagination in all such cases.There is another facet to this entire episode.What about the lives of the families of all those accused who are dead? How can they sustain their livelihood with most of them being daily bread earners? Does a child of the pregnant wife of one of the accused, need to suffer for bare necessities too, for no fault of hers? Are not the lives of these families too, scattered and shattered? Well, these are the questions we need to address to ensure social justice. I feel there is every need to extend the needed financial assistance, which is equally an integral part of human rights. Similarly, the best possible assistance by the government is to be extended to the members of the victim’s family for the lapses in ensuring safety and security, due to which they lost a qualified earning member and whose loss of life is irreparable. It is high time mechanisms are evolved to ensure no recurrence of such heinous events. – Ramana Gove


Miscellaneous comments

Sometimes, voters find no right or clean candidate to vote for. In that case, while exercising their right to vote, they have to cast their votes either for NOTA or the least undeserving candidate – the all too familiar “lesser evil”. Knowing the fact that NOTA does not hold any electoral value, many voters end up casting their vote in favour of the least undeserving candidate, lest their vote should go to waste.

There is no way to register their dissatisfaction with the choices the political parties have given them. There is no way to separate those who voted for the lesser of the evils from those who voted because they actually liked the candidate. There is a need to allow voters full expressivity and the Election Commission of India is bound to provide an appropriate mechanism in the EVM for the effective exercise of such a right.

I believe the “least undeserving candidate” option will ensure maximum participation of the public in the election. People not satisfied with the candidates will have a reason to go to the election booth and register their dissatisfaction. And political parties and candidates will be able to understand where they stand in the eyes of the public. – Dr Akshay Bajad


The current monsoon session of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is witnessing an important phase with the approval of several important bills. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is suggested to share the details of all the bills passed, amended or introduced, including private member bills, through a comprehensive list published daily in local newspapers and regional newspapers. Also the Press Information Bureau news portal may carry a detailed daily press release updates specifically announcing the list of bills presented in the current session on a regular basis. The Journal of Parliamentary Information published by Lok Sabha on a quarterly basis, should now be utilised extensively to publish details of all the proceedings of both the houses and also mention the list of bills passed in the current session.

Such a proactive move will help ensure that the citizens are well aware of bills passed by the respective members on a daily basis in every session of both the houses. This will help the Parliament effectively manage public outreach initiatives. – Varun Dambal