Home Currents Centre seeks anti-riot report card from states

Centre seeks anti-riot report card from states

by Subodh Ghildiyal , September 2009, Times of India

The Centre has for the first time circulated a detailed pro forma to states to report on communal incidents, prosecution and rehabilitation measures, in what marks a politically-sensitive effort to keep an eye on ensuring communal harmony. The states have been asked to furnish quarterly updates on steps which include prevention of communal riots.

The pro forma, issued by home ministry to states this month, is seen as setting up a “monitorable” mechanism on how states are doing on “communal harmony” front, allowing Centre to judge a state.
The Centre so far has not been able to move on the vexed “communal harmony” bill in view of treading on federal ties as law and order is a state subject. The reporting may be one way of addressing the gap in UPA-2’s poll promise.

It marks a significant step in monitoring communal issues without appearing to breach the federal division of work.
The move flows from a serious debate at the Centre. A committee of secretaries overseeing implementation of PM’s 15-point programme for minority welfare decided that there be a reporting mechanism which puts the Centre in a position to see if states are moving on the guidelines.

The MHA had in June 2008 circulated revised guidelines on communal harmony to states but they have proved a non-starter. It was largely so because communal incidents and follow-up action is in the domain of states. Fear of stepping on states’ turf saw the Centre treat it more in the form of advisory.
Sources said minority affairs ministry insisted on a detailed, monitorable pro forma which covered all aspects of the 15-point programme.

Henceforth, the states will, every quarter, inform the Centre on steps taken on various aspects on prevention like SOPs for sensitive areas, state level integration committees under the CM, filling up of vacancies, prosecution issues like setting up of special courts and prosecutors besides rehabilitation.

Insiders feel updating the Centre on communal incidents, persons prosecuted or tried and rehabilitation measures would give the Centre an idea on how a state was functioning in a post-flare up situation, with instances of biases or lax action likely to be reflected in the information furnished.

There are sceptics who feel that Centre may not be able to do much if states refuse to treat the pro forma as mandatory reporting, invoking its autonomy on ‘law and order’.

 

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