New Delhi: 2:55 pm: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav takes on BJP's incharge for Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah without naming him in his speech. He said, "The BJP is trying to convert Uttar Pradesh into Gujarat. He is conducting meetings past midnight to carry out activities against one particular community."
2:32 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan says votebank politics should be left out. There should not be double faced politicians. On communal tensions, he said, "Madhya Pradesh has communal harmony."
He also said, "Social media has positives but if there is any misuse, we need to rethink. Misuse should be stopped without obstructing the freedom of individual."
The Prime Minister was speaking on escalating communal tensions in the country and says minor incidents lead to such violence.
On senior BJP leader LK Advani and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar greeting each other warmly, he said, "If two leaders are there, they meet coordially. If Modi would be there, Nitish would have met him the same way as he met Advani."
1:47 pm: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, who skipped the NIC meet, says it's not necessary that a chief minister must attend the meet. State home minister and officials are present in the meeting.
12:57 pm: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu walks out of National Integration Council meet after he is not allowed to debate Telangana. "What is the agenda of the government at NIC. One state is burning because so many things have been done for political gains. What is going on in the Centre is what I was asking," said Naidu after he walked out of the meet.
"I was talking and was interrupted midway. The Home Minister and UPA chief started saying no. It is the fact that Andhra Pradesh is burning, people are agitating. Is this not an issue to be raised at NIC," he asked.
12:42 pm: The Congress takes on chief ministers who skipped the NIC meet with party leader Manish Tewari saying, "Why someone has not come, that person can respond best. But the understanding is that if you are serious and dedicated to national intergration and want to maintain communal harmony, you would attend the NIC meeting and lend your voice."
11:48 am: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah takes on the BJP over the Kishtwar issue. "Omar said if people visiting Muzaffarnagar are called secular tourist, should I call those who wanted to go to Kishtwar communal tourist?," sources say.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's visit to Muzaffarnagar as secular tourism. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who is on the dias at the NIC meet, wanted to go to Kishtwar after communal tension.
11:32 am: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha also takes a dig at her Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Yadav saying, "Tamil Nadu is free from communal tension because I have provided a free hand and uncompromising support to police force in maintaining law and order. Activities of communal organisation of both communities kept under close watch by a social wing of state intelligence." She also takes on Centre for badly drafting Communal Violence Bill and trying to push through NCTC.
11:16 am: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa blames UPA government's economic mismanagement for rise in communal tension. Her speech was read by Law Minister as she skipped the meet.
She says, "A sharp deceleration of economic growth and persistent high inflation caused in substantial measure by economic mismanagement of the UPA government and Centre have contributed to social tensions. I have, therefore, adopted a model for Tamil Nadu to achieve development through inclusive growth and thereby rid the society of inner tensions that may surface in form of communal tension."
10:59 am: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar speaks at the NIC meet. He says, "Use of weapons should be banned in any religious yatra. The political involvement in riots should also be examined."
10:37 am: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the only BJP chief minister to be present at the NIC meet. Other party chief ministers Narendra Modi, Raman Singh and Manohar Parrikar did not attend the meet.
10:27 am: The Prime Minister also highlights the role of social media in the recent communal riots in Muzaffarnagar as some old videos were used to incite tension in the communities. He says, "We cannot let anti national forces misuse social media. Social media is about expressing opinions freely and we need to maintain that sense of freedom." He adds social media can be used to foster brotherhood and unity.
10:23 am: On politicising of communal riots, the Prime Minister says, " We should not try and make political gains when communal violence takes place and the government should do everything to act against those who are responsible for inciting communal violence, no matter how powerful they are."
10:22 am: The Prime Minister speaks on the rising crime against women and says it is shameful that crime against women is on increase.
10:21 am: Condemning the atrocities against the weaker sections of the society, he says, "There has been an increase in such atrocities against SC and ST."
10:18 am: The Prime Minister says anti-national forces are using minor incident to escalate communal disharmony in the society. He says, "We are determined to control these forces. States need to take prompt action to control small incidents that could flare up."
10:16 am: The Prime Minister says the meeting becomes important in the backdrop of the communal tension in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining area. He says a minor incident led to major communal tension. There were incidents of communal tension in Kishtwar, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh.
10:15 am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks on communal riots in various parts of the state.
10:10 am: Shinde proposes to discuss three agendas in the meeting. First is the safety and security of women. He said, "No country can progress unless we treat our women with respect and the crime against women data shows increase in the crime in last three years."
The second issue relates to the treatment to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. He said, "They continue to be treated badly despite attempts in Constitution. They have not been integrated completely in society. Atrocities against SC and ST continues."
The third on agenda is to restore communal harmany as the communal intolerance is on the rise in the last three years, especially in the last 2 months. He said, "Minor incidents are leading to communal tension anongst communities and people being displaced."
10:03 am: Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde addresses NIC meet.
10:02 am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives at the NIC meet.
9:57 am: Senior BJP leader LK Advani and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar greet each other warmly.
Gujarat Chief Narendra Modi will skip National Integration Council meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday. The meet was held in the backdrop of the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, in which over 40 people lost their lives.
The meeting will be attended by all the chief ministers. The events of the meeting hold importance as the Union Home Ministry has warned against such violence in the election year. The meeting is likely to discuss the use of social media to promote national integration and tackling hate propaganda.
According to the agenda, the 148-member NIC will discuss among other issues safety and security of women, confidence- building measures taken to tackle communal disturbances and taking help from all sections of society in removing communal tension.
Union ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, chief ministers of all states and Union Territories are members of the NIC. Leaders of national and regional political parties, chairpersons of national commissions, eminent journalists, public figures and representatives of business and women's organisations are also a part of the NIC.
The proposed Communal Violence Bill, opposed by some states as it envisages empowering the Central government to send central forces unilaterally in case of communal disturbances, is also expected to be discussed in the meeting.
Steps taken to tackle crimes against SCs/STs, associating all sections of society in removing inter-caste tension will also be discussed in the day-long meeting convened after two years.
(With additional information from PTI)