GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat Assembly witnessed angry exchanges on Wednesday during a debate on a private member’s bill tabled by a Congress MLA for punishing mob lynchings and violence against the minorities.
The ‘Gujarat Welfare and Protection of Minorities Bill’ was tabled by Congress MLA from Ahmedabad Imran Khedawala.
His frequent reference to “mob lynching” and “rampant attacks on minorities in Gujarat” irked the ruling BJP members.
Khedawala claimed that members of minority communities are frequently attacked by “communal and anti-social elements having the backing of police and political leaders”.
This led to a heated exchange between the treasury and opposition benches.
Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama interrupted Khedawala several times during his speech and challenged him to prove his allegations.
Unfazed, Khedawala said the incidents of mob lynching were tarnishing Gujarat’s image.
“Even the Supreme Court had said that a law should be enacted to deal with mob lynching incidents. My bill proposes that any attack on minorities shall be a cognizable offense, and the culprit shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than seven years. This will deter those who attack the minorities and their properties,” said the first-time MLA.
The Congress MLA in his bill also proposed action against district collectors and superintendents of police if communal violence broke out in their area.
He also proposed a separate department to look after the needs and welfare of the minorities.
BJP MLA Kuber Dindor said the minority community should make sure that its youths do not indulge in “Love Jihad”.
Another BJP MLA, Kishor Chauhan, termed Khedawala’s speech as an attempt to “disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Gujarat”.
Fellow Congress legislator Gyasuddin Shaikh took a slightly different line from Khedawala.
Several incidents of mob lynching took place in various parts of the country but Gujarat remained an exception, Shaikh noted.
“But, as a preventive measure and as per the guidelines of the Supreme Court, we should think of enacting a law against mob lynching,” he added.
Countering Khedawala’s contentions, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Ishwar Parmar listed several schemes of the Gujarat government which are designed specially for the minorities.
Satisfied with the minister’s reply, Khedawala withdrew the bill.
Source: Times of India