Andhra sets up state, district level communal harmony committees

Amaravati, Jan 7 : Amid a flood of unverified, alleged temple attack reports, the Andhra Pradesh government has formed state and district level communal harmony committees to initiate confidence building measures and promote religious harmony in the state.

“The main objective of both the state level and district level communal harmony committees is to take up several confidence building measures and send across strong communication that all the communities in the state are together,” Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das said on Thursday.

He specially addressed the media and highlighted that communal harmony is central for the development of the state and the districts, and vowed that the government is committed to take stern action against the perpetrators of crimes against religious harmony.

The state level communal harmony committee will comprise the chief secretary as the chairman, director general of police (vice chairman), and a representative each from the faiths of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and others as members.

Other members in this committee will include principal secretaries from the departments of home, endowments, minority welfare, and other stakeholders.

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“The committee will meet from time to time to discuss issues related to communal harmony, spreading the message that all communities in the state are together, striving for the development of the state,” said Das.

It will also prepare detailed state level standard operating procedures for tacking situations which cause communal disharmony.

The committee will prepare guidelines related to the security plan for religious buildings, structures and monuments in the state, formulate a plan for increasing communal harmony in the state and take stock of the actions taken on issues discussed by the district communal harmony committee.

“The committee will review all the cases booked under different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the culprits for disturbing communal harmony at the district level,” he said.

The committee will also take up programmes in schools and colleges to inculcate the spirit of togetherness and communal harmony among the students.

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Das pointed out that some vested interests want to destabilise communal harmony in the state, which is renowned for inter-faith harmony.

“The state of Andhra Pradesh has always been famous for its communal peace and harmony. One would look back at the state’s tranquility with humility and pride. People of all castes and religions have been in peaceful coexistence here since ages and have adopted a progressive attitude,” Das said.

However, he pointed out that the recent surge in alleged temple attacks has raised many questions, bringing to light the attempts made by some vested interests to destabilise communal harmony in the state.

“The motive of these vested interest groups is to directly or indirectly cause the attacks on temples, subsequently make baseless insinuations and instigate communal violence with the hope that the government’s credibility would be damaged,” said the chief secretary, adding that it is imperative to take stern action to prevent such occurrences in the future.

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