Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday asked parties to refrain from taking advantage out of communal strife and said states should crackdown on elements fanning such violence irrespective of their political affiliations or influence.
Underlining that the onus for preventing communal violence lies with the states, he said effective steps should be taken by the administration to ensure that small issues don't snowball into a big controversy.
"The state government should lose no time to control communal violence sternly. The local administration should prevent a small issue from snowballing into a huge controversy and arrest those responsible for spreading it," Singh said inaugurating the 16th National Integration Council meeting.
"The state should use all means at its disposal to punish those guilty for fanning communal violence and ensure a speedy crackdown on such elements irrespective of their political affiliations or influence," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said the meeting assumes significance as it was being held in the aftermath of communal clashes in Muzzafarnagar which claimed nearly 50 lives and damaged property worth lakhs of crores of rupees.
He said the country had witnessed communal clashes recently in Kishtwar area of Jammu and Kashmir, Nawada area of Bihar, Hyderabad and most importantly Uttar Pradesh which has seen an increase in these incidents in the past few months.
"At times, the anti-national forces succeed in creating a communal divide between various sections of people and such forces are a big challenge for the democracy of this country," the Prime Minister said and called for effective handling of such forces with an iron hand.
He said the state governments should make it clear to its officials that "carelessness will not be tolerated" whenever communal tension takes places in their area of jurisdiction. "They (officials) are answerable in case of any communal tension or violence," he said.
The Prime Minister termed as "unfortunate" the debate as to which party would be benefited during elections in