Social activist and writer Teesta Setalvad said it was time the country identified demographic rather than religious minorities, and the Central and State governments should initiate policy-backed census drives to arrive at realistic minority divisions at the district and division levels.
Speaking to the press at Mangalore after touring the areas affected by the October communal riots, Ms. Setalvad said that the Governments should review the blanket ‘minority’ status assigned to religious communities. An independent group of 17 organisations had given a representation in this regard to the Central Government, she said.
In her tour of the troubled areas in Ullal in Mangalore taluk, she had found that minorities had faced the wrath of both the majority communities and of the police. This was especially true in Veeranagar, Faisalnagar and Goodinabali, where communal brutality had been at its worst. At nearly 35 places, police had entered homes and abused and beaten up women and children. District Minister-in-charge B. Nagaraja Shetty, who claimed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was his role model, should have tried to use the police force effectively but he had allowed them instead to target minority families, Ms. Setalvad said.
Such instances of police brutality served to undermine law and order, which was not healthy for a democracy. The police and the district administration should work within a Constitutional framework, especially during riot situations, she said.
Later, addressing the Sadbhavana Samavesha organised by the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike in Mangalore, Ms. Setalvad said that a section of the media had been completely won over by communal forces, which was evident in their ways of presenting issues. She asked the people to boycott them.