New Delhi: At 4:30 pm on Wednesday, top leaders from across the opposition spectrum gathered at the Constitution Club in New Delhi to demand the passage of a draft bill titled 'Maanav Suraksha Kanoon' (MASUKA) that aims to put an end to instances of mob violence.
Seated beside each other were representatives from parties such as the Congress, CPI (M), DMK, Aam Aadmi Party, RJD, SP and BSP - political parties that don't necessarily see eye to eye.
The JD (U), BJD and TMC could not send representatives but expressed their support for the draft law. But one notable exception to this mosaic was AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi.
The absence of Owaisi, who is also a lawyer, was particularly noticeable since he declared his intention of introducing a private member bill of his own against mob violence. If there was any doubt that Owaisi was being snubbed, the organisers of the event made it clear.
Shehzaad Poonawalla, Congress leader and member of the team that drafted the proposed MASUKA, said, “Asaduddin Owaisi has a habit of hijacking such things and making it a Hindu-Muslim issue. We don't want MASUKA to be viewed on religious lines at all. Whether a Junaid gets lynched in Haryana or a Hindu gets killed elsewhere or even if African students are attacked, we are against mob violence in principle. All human life is precious. We will not allow this law to be communalised.”
The organisers did, however, invite representatives from the BJP by virtue of it being the ruling party.
Among those present were senior Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh, Shashi Tharoor and Salman Khurshid, AAP leader Sanjay Singh, RJD's Manoj Jha, DMK's TK Ilangovan and CPI (M) MP MB Rajesh.