NEW DELHI: Any kind of gestures, words or acts of “discrimination” or “derogatory” remarks on the basis of race, culture or physical appearance can land you in prison for as long as five years, as the Centre is moving to add new sections to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to punish such actions.
The move comes after the government accepted the recommendations made by the Bezbaruah Committee, set up in the wake of the killing of Nido Tania, a youth from Arunachal Pradesh, in Delhi last year.
The move is part of the Home Ministry’s efforts to stop the growing incidents of discrimination faced by people of north-eastern origin living in different parts of the country.
The government has, meanwhile, also roped in NCERT to include the contribution made by people of north-eastern origin to the country’s freedom struggle in the school syllabus.
Apart from this, setting up of a special legal services authority in Delhi to provide legal assistance to people of north-eastern origin, fast-track courts, scholarships for north-eastern students, incentives in the field of sports and boosting tourism in the north-eastern states are some steps cleared by the government by roping in ministries such as tourism, culture, sports and others.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said his ministry has “in principle” agreed with the high-level committee’s recommendations seeking provisions under the law to deal with crimes of racial discrimination.
“The final shape of the law is still being worked out but the committee’s suggestion of amending the IPC has been accepted,” Singh said at a press conference.
He said, “The amendment of IPC is under consideration for insertion of new Sections 153C and 509A as recommended by the committee.”
The high-level committee has recommended tweaking Section 153 of the IPC to add a new clause providing for imprisonment up to five years with a fine to “whoever, by words either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, attempts or promotes to attempt on the ground of race or place of origin or such other grounds relating to racial features, or to racial behaviour and culture, or to racial customs, or participates in such activity intending to use criminal force or violence”.
The law will also cover cases where any person is “likely to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst the members of that racial groups”.
Bringing another provision, the committee has suggested the insertion of a clause in Section 509 of the IPC which provided a three-year jail term and fine if there is “a word, gesture or act intended to insult a member of a particular racial group or of any race or whoever intending to insult any member of a particular or any race for whatever reason or for reason of their place of origin, racial features, behavioural pattern, customs, practices or dresses…”
It will also apply if anyone “utters any word, makes any sound or gesture or exhibits any object intending to insult or intrudes privacy shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years with fine”.
Singh said a bill may be brought for amending the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2014 for safety and security of the people of the Northeast in Delhi and others parts of the country.
“We are examining the proposal and may add two provisions in the Indian Penal Code by amending the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2014,” he said.
Singh, however, was silent on the committee’s recommendation of a relook at AFSPA in the Northeast.
The Bezbaruah Committee, in its report, had noted that the “most common demand” from people of the north-eastern region was to make words like “momos”, “Chinkis”, “Chinese”, “Chichi Chu Chu” or any other derogatory remarks relating to race, culture, identity or physical appearances to be made punishable.
Singh said the government is committed to the safety and security of people of from the Northeast living in Delhi and other metropolitan cities.
He said all short-term measures have been implemented within the stipulated six months’ time and other long-term measures will also be put in place soon. – From The Asian Age