Seeking to dispel fears of curbs on democratic rights, in the wake of the recent arrest of human rights activists, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured Saturday “there will not be any effort to compress the pressure cooker”.
“I want to clarify there will never be any effort to compress the pressure cooker. All have the right to speak, do whatever they want in democracy but no one will be allowed to destabilise the country or create violence,” he said at an event here.
Singh was answering a query on the Supreme Court’s comment, while hearing a petition on the arrest of the activists, that “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If you don’t allow the safety valve, pressure cooker will burst.”
Asserting that “our government is committed to upholding democratic values”, the Home Minister, speaking at the ‘Hindustan Shikhar Samagam’ event of the Hindustan newspaper, said, “The people who have been arrested… I would ask you to check their earlier records. In 2012 too, many of them were arrested, and at that time also, similar allegations were raised.”
He added, “Any effort to destabilise any government, taking refuge in one’s ideology for promoting violence, conspiring to destabilise and break the country, I feel there cannot be a bigger crime than this. That is why the Maharastra Police has taken action, on the basis of facts.”
Singh also claimed success against Naxalism, saying the number of Left Wing Extremism-affected districts had come down from 126 to “around 10”. “But now they are finding another way. They’re coming to cities and are trying to influence people. They want to take violence to the urban areas. I have got inputs from my agencies.”
About the Kashmir issue, the Home Minister said it was a “chronic” problem and would take time to resolve. “Chronic problems take time. The way family members of our policemen were kidnapped… you might have heard that our forces put such immense pressure that they had to release all. We will never compromise with violence.”
While not naming Pakistan as he talked about “a neighbouring country that keeps trying to conspire to break this country on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir”, Singh said, “I wish success to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and express hope that he will perform well in politics, as he did in cricket.”
Replying to a question on the Khalistan movement, the Union minister said his government would ensure it doesn’t see a revival. Talking about a recent protest in the UK seeking a referendum for an “independent Punjab”, Singh said that despite over 10 lakh Sikhs living in the UK, only 1,500 to 2,000 took part in the event and not one was a Sikh from India. “The hand of Pakistan’s ISI has come out in the open in this,” he alleged.
About some violent incidents in the recent past, including those triggered by SC/ST unrest, Singh said no country could guarantee that there never would be any violent incident. However, he said, if there was any such incident, action would be taken. “India has such diversity — diversity of outfits, language, thinking… If there are some minor incidents of violence, I believe it is a matter of concern, and the government tries to deal with it. There is no other country like India. We have our Muslim brothers here, and there is no country in this world where people of all the sects of Islam live. Some powers are trying to break this.”
He was also asked about the spate of mob lynchings in the country, and he said these were unfortunate, and that the government was very serious about checking them and had set up a panel to suggest measures. “The law will also be amended if required,” the minister said.
Singh then went on repeat, “But the biggest mob lynching took place in 1984,” in an apparent reference to the anti-Sikh riots.
To a question on checks being imposed on social media, he said fake news, pornography and other things “harmful for society” have to be checked and this is the responsibility of the government.
Downplaying murmurs of dissent in the NDA alliance, Singh said such things happen in every family. “But I am confident the Shiv Sena will remain with us.”
with PTI inputs