“There is another aspect associated with human rights which I want to speak about today. In recent years, some people have begun interpreting human rights in their own way prioritising their interests. They see human rights violation in one incident but cannot see it in another incident of similar nature. Such mindset harms human rights a lot… Human rights suffer a great deal when they are looked at through a political prism and considered according to political gains and loss. Such selective conduct harms democracy a great deal too,” Modi said at the 28th foundation day of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
The Prime Minister did not name any party or organisation but said India should be wary of people who try to dent the country’s image in the name of raising concerns over human rights violations. The nod seemed to be towards the opposition focus on the Lakhimpur Kheri violence while implying absence of similar protests when it came to atrocities in non-BJP states.
The suggestion was immediately reinforced by BJP after the event and the party elaborated instances of anti-Dalit crimes in states like Jharkhand and Rajasthan, providing details Modi’s speech did not have. The Prime Minister also underscored “pro-poor, pro-women and pro-Divyang” initiatives taken by his government, and targeted the opposition as people who chose to see human rights violations in some incidents but not others. He said improving the quality of life and options for the poor is key to protecting their human rights, enabling them to look beyond daily survival.
Home minister Amit Shah lauded India’s strong tradition of delivering justice and upholding human rights. He said the Modi government was the country’s most popular elected government since Independence and said Modi has worked relentlessly for the welfare of poor, backwards and deprived sections of society.
Shah also lauded NHRC for its efforts to protect the human rights of people in the 28 years of its existence. He said since its inception, NHRC disposed of 20 lakh cases and awarded Rs 205-crore compensation to scores of people whose human rights were violated, which is a commendable figure.
The BJP press conference criticised a section of human rights groups, some with global presence, and alleged that they highlighted cases of alleged rights violations selectively and with a bias against the government. Modi also highlighted the government action to approve a 26-week maternity leave to working women, a right, he said, that is still not available to women in many developed countries.
Speaking at the function, NHRC chairperson Justice Arun Kumar Mishra (retd) said the 20th century has witnessed close to 12 crore people fall victim to political violence across the globe. “The murders of innocent people cannot be glorified. For such terrorists to be referred to as freedom fighters is wrong. Social service organisations and human rights defenders should join forces to condemn political violence and terrorism as disregarding this engenders fundamentalism,” Mishra said.
He also said India has emerged as a powerful entity on a global level and it has got recognition as a new power. This, he said, is to the credit of India’s people, its constitutional system and leadership. The NHRC chief also complimented the “untiring efforts” of home minister Amit Shah for fostering peace in Jammu & Kashmir and the northeast.