Dispelling fears that the government is clamping down on democratic rights, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday assured that “there will not be any effort to compress the pressure cooker”. His comment comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s observation that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy” and that “If you don’t allow the safety valve, the pressure cooker will burst.”
On Wednesday, the apex court made these remarks while issuing a notice to the Maharashtra government in connection with the arrest of five human rights activists and lawyers as part of the ongoing probe into the Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra in January.
“I want to clarify that 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 in Lucknow.
“Our government is committed to upholding democratic values, see the record of those arrested. In 2012, too many of them were arrested and at that time also similar allegations were raised,” he said at the ‘Hindustan Shikhar Samagam’. “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.”
Probing an alleged Maoist link to a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on the eve of the January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon, Pune police Tuesday searched homes of nine rights activists and lawyers and arrested five: Varavara Rao in Hyderabad; Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai; Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad; and, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi.
Singh said that his government was successful in countering Naxalism, pointing out that the number of Left Wing Extremism affected districts has considerably gone down. “Now they (Naxals) are adopting different measures, working in urban areas and influencing people with their ideology. They want to do violence in urban areas. I have got inputs from my agencies,” Singh said.
Terming the Kashmir issue a chronic problem, the home minister said that it will take time to be resolved. He also wished success to the newly elected Pakistan Prime minister Imran Khan and expressed hope on the political front drawing a parallel with his captaincy on the cricket field. “There is a new captain in Pakistan, he had been playing on the cricket field till now. Now he has to play on the political field. Let’s see how successful he is, we pray for his strength to succeed,” he said.