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Advani, Nitish exchange greetings, PM attacks BJP

The 16th National Integration Council meeting witnessed the warm exchange of greetings between BJP’s patriarch LK Advani and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar after the break-up of JD(U)’s alliance with the NDA over the elevation of Narendra Modi as the chairman of party’s election campaign committee.

The meeting between both the leaders was played down by former deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Kumar Modi by describing it as standard practice under political protocol.

‘The exchange of greetings by leaders of different political parties is routine practice and take place as per established political protocol,’ the former deputy chief minister told reporters in a reply to a question in Patna on Monday.

The warm exchange between the two leaders has given rise to many speculations, especially since it came a meeting that has been skipped by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

Taking on anti-social elements, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that threats from communal, separatist and obscurantist forces to the nation’s integrity must be dealt with firmly and promptly.

Wrapping up National Integration Council meeting here, Singh said a national effort by people of all sections of society including politicians are needed to prevent incidents of communal violence.

‘It is clear from what has been said today that threats from communal, separatist and obscurantist forces to our nation’s integrity, gender relations, harmony and equality for all our citizens must be dealt with firmly and promptly,’ Singh said.

Asserting that preventing incidents of communal violence is primarily the responsibility of the local administration and the police force, Singh said ‘it requires a national effort led by all of us in public life, particularly those involved in the political processes, and by all our citizens in every walk of life.

‘It is also incumbent on all of us to promote actively an atmosphere conducive to the maintenance of communal harmony,’ he said.

Meanwhile, union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, in his concluding remarks at the NIC meeting, said if due vigil is maintained, careful planning done and preemptive measures put in place, many potential incidents of communal violence can be prevented.

Shinde said wherever riots take place, they can be contained effectively and much human suffering avoided if it is tackled with promptness, grit and determination.

‘I emphasise that there should be zero tolerance for elements who incite communal passions and the state machinery should strictly enforce the laws to promptly apprehend the culprits and nip the troubles in the bud,’ Shinde said.

‘We are facing new and emerging challenges in the wake of use of technology like social media. They have the potential for creating enormous trouble but if used properly they can be powerful tool for spreading the message of peace and brotherhood,’ the home minister said.

The NIC, which discussed ways to check communal violence, on Monday condemned all forms of violence intended to disturb communal harmony and resolved to take immediate action against those involved in it.

The NIC unanimously resolved to condemn violence in any form committed to disturb communal harmony and to deal with all those indulging in such violence in a prompt and resolute manner under the law, said a resolution passed at the council meeting.

It agreed to take all measures to preserve sustain and strengthen the harmonious relationship between all communities and enable all citizens to lead their lives in freedom as equal citizen with dignity and honour.

The NIC also condemned the sexual abuse, molestation and violent attacks on women and resolved ‘to ensure prompt and firm action against the culprits by the law enforcement agencies as well as speedy prosecution of such cases under the criminal justice system’.

The NIC meeting is being held in the backdrop of the recent Muzaffarnagar riots where social media was used to spread a fake video which fanned tensions.
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