Chennai: With incidents of community distrust surfacing and taking a toll on societal harmony, the state government is considering new law to protect community harmony in the state.
A Catholic priest, Father George Ponniah, was convicted by the Tamil Nadu police of hate speech in Kanyakumari in a public ceremony on July 18 in which he made derogatory remarks against “Bharat Mata” and the Hindu religion. After a complaint was filed by the state’s BJP, Arumanai police sentenced him under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Kuzhithurai condemned the priest’s speech and distanced itself from him.
After an idol of Lord Vinayaka was found on Monday by a few criminals on barren land in Tiruchengode near a Catholic church, police intervened and removed the idol. This led to the shouting of slogans and the throwing of stones, but the immediate intervention of the police and the taking into custody of around 20 people caused the situation to falter.
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With such incidents coming up in the state, the chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Minorities Commission, Peter Alphonse, has suggested that the government pass a new law to protect community harmony.
The chairman of the committee on minorities also said the new law would be a model for the rest of the country and called on the government to immediately adopt legislation in this area.
Peter Alphonse’s suggestion is being taken seriously by the state government and the Chief Minister, MK Stalin, has ordered the state legal department to investigate all aspects immediately and report back to them within a few days.
While the legislation may not be discussed in the state assembly’s budget session from August 13, the chief minister’s seriousness is a clear indicator that the government would pass such legislation in the coming months.
Tamil Nadu’s chief minister announced an ambitious plan to invest Rs 1,000,000 crore in the state and make it South Asia’s largest investment destination. With such an ambitious plan in mind, the chief minister, according to DMK sources, wants to put in place legislation to prevent any communal skirmishes in the state, thereby diverting the investment the state had planned.
Justice Minister S Raghupathy told IANS: “The government is actually considering such a proposal. We are studying all aspects of it and a decision will be made.