Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has written to all chief ministers asking them to ensure that no innocent Muslim youth is wrongfully detained on charges of terror.
Perhaps the Congress has sensed by the huge turn out of Muslims in Narendra Modi’s Delhi rally that it is going to be difficult to get their votes this time. Past few weeks, the UPA government has been trying all the tactics to keep them by their side.
Since the Mulayam Singh Yadav clan after Muzaffarnagar episode, Lalu Yadav’s support after his conviction today and their party’s own vice president Rahul Gandhi’s new “no-nonsense” policies, the Congress is high and dry in terms of allies who can get them minority votes. Plus, virtually everybody in every corner of the country is chanting Modi’s name, which leaves less for their imagination.
This must have been the reason when the home minister Sushilkumar Shinde took another desperate measure on the government’s behalf.
Shinde has written to all chief ministers asking them to ensure that “no innocent Muslim youth” is wrongfully detained on charges of terror. “Some of the minority youth have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived of their basic rights,” Shinde said.
The home minister asked the state governments to set up special courts in consultation with the concerned high courts to try terror-related cases, appoint special public prosecutors, and prioritise these cases over other cases. “Strict and prompt action against erring police officers where there is mala fide arrests of any member of minority community, wrongfully arrested, person should not only be released immediately but they should be suitably compensated and rehabilitated to join the mainstream,” he reportedly said.
The oppossition party BJP reacted sharply to Shinde’s letter, accusing him of trying to divide the country on communal lines.
“If Shinde had issued the letter without associating the religion of the person it would not have been an issue. Had he used the word Indian — of any religion — then it would have been better. Shinde should be sacked with immediate effect for dividing the country on communal lines,” BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
“It would have been fair to the country at large if he had not mentioned one particular religion in his letter,” Rudy said.
Senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu alleged that Shinde had written the “unconstitutional and questionable” letter in pursuance of “votebank politics”.
“This is influenced by politics. This has been done with the elections and vote bank in mind. This is a ploy to bring the minorities towards their (Congress) side and this is a wrong thing done by the union home minister,” Naidu said.
However noble the cause may sound, well, his ‘order’ makes it loud and clear as to what the government actually wants.
The attempt of appeasing Muslims, and particularly youth, is recent yet not new for the UPA government.
In May 2013, the central government set up 39 special courts under the NIA Act to take up terror-related cases after Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan had written to Shinde expressing concern over “wrong arrests” of Muslims in terror cases.
Apprising the Home Ministry of the concerns expressed by various Muslim bodies that the ‘draconian’ provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act can be misused against minorities, Khan had proposed setting up of special courts to ensure speedy trial of all terror cases.
Fully backing the Minority Affairs Minister’s suggestion of setting up of special courts, Shinde wrote back to him saying ‘you have my assurance that this will happen.’
This support, however, is a little too late. But how will the Muslim community react to it will be clear only after the elections. Till then, sops are meant to be enjoyed.