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India: Curb hate speech that triggers communal riots, says Teesta

Saturday 21 March 2015, by siawi3


TNN | Mar 21, 2015, 03.24 AM IST

CHENNAI: Communal flare-ups get noticed only when the violence takes place. But the events that cause the flare-ups should be duly dealt with so that they don’t take place, said Teesta Setalvad, well-known civil rights activist on Friday.

In her speech during a seminar held in the city, Setalvad recalled the history of communal violence in the country and said that despite stringent laws in place, hate speeches often went unpunished in the past. Young people are impressionable and get swayed by hate speeches but premier educational institutions do not seem to care about the impact these speeches are having on their students. “College campuses like IITs and Banaras Hindu University do not have a problem in people like Subramaniam Swamy attacking certain communities while delivering speeches,” she said. Teesta also asked the younger generation to step out of their classrooms and social media to understand real history.

Pointing out that the trigger factors for communal violence vary from place to place, Setalvad said there was a need to engage judges and policemen with people on the ground to get a clear picture of the situation leading to and following communal violence. “After 2002 post-Godhra communal violence, we were able to file many cases pertaining to it only after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) went on a field visit and recorded statements,” said Setalvad, who runs Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an NGO that filed petitions on behalf of the victims of Godhra riots.

Justice Chandru said there are always people with strong conviction who are ready to take on the government of the day. He lauded the efforts of Teesta Setalvad and said she would have the support of the people. Dr Vasanthi Devi and Gnani were also present at the event.