Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has said those involved in incidents of hate and lynching cannot call themselves nationalists while holding that legislation alone was not enough as a change in societal behaviour was required to prevent such cases. The vice president also expressed anguish over the politicisation of incidents of lynching, saying such cases should not be linked with political parties. "Societal change (is needed). This (lynching) is not because of this party or that party. The moment you attribute it to these parties, the cause is lost. That is what is happening, let me be very frank," he said.
Asked about the incidents of hate and lynching, he said it was not a new trend and there were such instances in the past also. "It is the social behaviour that has to change...when you kill the other man, how can you call yourself nationalist. On the basis of religion, on the basis of caste or on the basis of colour, or on the basis of gender, you discriminate. Nationalism, Bharat Mata Ki Jai has a wider meaning," Naidu told news agency PTI in an interview on Tuesday. He said "some of these things" cannot be tackled through legislation alone, and a societal change was needed to check them.
The government has been under attack from the Indian National Congress and several other opposition parties for a spate of lynchings in various parts of the country in the last couple of years. According to Home Ministry data, around 40 people were lynched in nine states in the past one year. The opposition and various civil rights groups have also accused the government of not coming down hard on those involved in the incidents.
On July 17, the Supreme Court said that "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land and issued a slew of guidelines to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism. It also asked the Centre to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with such incidents. A panel appointed by the government to examine ways to contain such incidents is believed to have recommended framing a new legislation.
"When the Nirbhaya issue came, there was a clamour for Nirbhaya act. Nirbhaya act has come, did they stop. I am not getting into politics, the political parties they have their own way of highlighting it. I (had) said, what is required is not a mere bill, political will, administrative skill, and then go for the kill of the social evil. I had said in Parliament," said Naidu. Noting that there was also a debate on about nationalism in the country, Naidu said it should also be properly defined and articulated.
"According to me nationalism or 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' means 'Jai Ho' to 130 crore people. Any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, sex, religion or region is against nationalism," the vice president said. In the Nirbhaya case, five men and a juvenile gang-raped a woman on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi and severely assaulted her. She succumbed to injuries on December 29, 2012, at a Singapore hospital. The woman was given the name Nirbhaya (fearless).