Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, who stoked a controversy with his comments about “polluting” the mind of 20-year-old Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, said here today that the government would provide “full security to every individual of this country, including Gurmehar”. He also said he had instructed the Delhi Police to “identify and take action” against people who had threatened her online with rape. Rijiju was speaking at the Idea Exchange programme at The Indian Express Wednesday — the transcript of the chat will be published this Sunday. “We are not doing any favour by providing security, it is the absolute responsibility of the government to ensure safety to citizens of this nation. The problem which we see in college and universities are an ideological battle between far-leftist and nationalist so it is taking some kind of a course where the students themselves will have to decide what is best for the college, universities or what is best for the country,” Rijiju said.
The minister claimed that his comments were meant for “leftists” and not the DU student, “I have not seen the full video of DU student. The position of the government is very clear. Every individual in this nation has absolute freedom to express his opinion. If anybody, whether a 20-year-old girl you are referring to or anybody gets threat or get some abusive language on social media, we will identify. We have only communicated to the police if somebody has impersonated himself or in a fake account or by some other means tried to abuse the freedom of expression of other person or tried to misuse social media, action must be taken once the person is identified.”
Asked why the government is so intolerant when it comes to dissent and criticism, Rijiju said, “The debate of intolerance is misplaced. Some people are so desperate that their ideology is being discarded, they are not getting the support of the majority people, so they try to create a debate. This debate (intolerance) doesn’t hold any ground….there is absolute right for dissent, disagreement and to criticize the government also. It is very healthy in democracy because that brings government to accountability. The only borderline I clearly put is do not abuse the nation….freedom of expression is not a freedom to abuse your nation…nobody has an absolute freedom or privilege to define nationalism. It is not my birth right and it’s nobody’s birth right…there is absolute freedom in India.”
He further said, “There has been no major incident in the hinterland barring few cases. I agree with the former PM Manmohan Singh’s statement that left wing extremism (LWE) is the greatest threat to internal security….We are working on Naga framework agreement and I have discussed with JIC and interlocutor and asked him to complete the consultations fast. I would like to assure the people from North East that territorial integrity of the NE states will be untouched. But we will go to the core and Naga problem will be solved.” Asked about the Opposition claim that BJP was trying to polarize voters in UP on religious lines, Rijiju said, “If you disagree with what PM has said (Kabristan and Shamshan), you have the right to dissent….In this country, if you praise Muslim, you become secular and if you praise Hindu, you become communal. This has been going on for very long.”