The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay springs communal riot fine

Bhopal, March 3: Indulge in communal violence, and pay a community fine in addition to facing criminal charges.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, facing a series of low-intensity but repeated incidents of communal clashes in the state, has hit upon this novel idea to check the spread of the communal virus in the state.

According to the proposed law, all those who figure on the police’s FIR will now have to pay for causing loss of lives, injuries, looting, theft and damage to government property, vehicles and so on. It will be in cash and one-and-a-half times the actual cost.

Digvijay said he has dusted up a law “Madhya Pradesh Suraksha Adhiniyam (Madhya Pradesh Security Act)” of 1980, passed during the Arjun Singh regime, which envisaged the novel method of fixing responsibility on those who perpetuate violence in society.

Although the Act failed to see the light of the day, Digvijay, an Arjun protégé, has decided to act on it. “I think the Act is good and the need of the hour. It would certainly act as a deterrent,” Digvijaysaid.

Asked if the new Act would survive the test of law since it will amount to punishing a person before one is actually convicted, the chief minister said: “I am sure it would survive. In any case, I am not much worried about legal intricacies. My prime concern is to uphold the rule of law and prevent such ugly disturbances at all costs.”

Digvijay said he has decided to impose the fine on those responsible for communal trouble in Ganjbasoda, where a mob went on the rampage following an incident of cow slaughter and, in Dhar, where mob frenzy broke out after the opening of the lock of Bhojshala.

“My idea is to punish all those who have a habit of taking the law in their hands. I want them to realise that they would have to pay an economic price, too,” the chief minister added.

Digvijay said his decision to impose a similar community fine for atrocities on Dalits in Rajgarh had proved to be effective. The chief minister had also slapped a fine and a ban in an incident of “sati” on August 6, 2002, when 65-year-old Kuttu Bai set herself on fire on the funeral pyre of her husband at Patna-Tamoli village in Panna district.

Digvijay announced the decision to lift the ban on state-sponsored development aid in Patna-Tamoli in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. He said villagers who had reportedly watched and had encouraged the heinous crime later repented.

Digvijay added that the idea was to make the villagers realise the gravity of the crime. He said in backward regions like Panna, the need was to change the mindset of the people to prevent the recurrence of such heinous crimes.

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