Rajnath's backing of police tackling Maoists without fear of rights bodies' wrong: Swami Agnivesh
Taking serious note of Rajnath Singh's remark that police officials initiating action against Maoists should not worry about reactions from human rights bodies, social activist Swami Agnivesh on Wednesday said the former's statement will send out wrong signals to the lower police ranks.
Agnivesh told ANI, "If he has said this, then we have to take it seriously, and a home minister of India should not give such statements. It will give wrong signals to the lower level."
"To say that he will take the responsibility would be irresponsible. Who will save the lower rank policemen then? If he violates human rights, then he will face trouble. Rajnath Singh cannot save that person from law, he will only bring a bad name for the government and himself," he added.
He further warned that such steps would erode India's status as a respecter of global human rights standards.
"In the human right courts in Geneva, the status of India will degrade. What I mean to say is that the home minister should not have said all this. I condemn the violence done by Maoists. They must also change their path," he said.
Agnivesh instead wondered why Singh did not give a message of holding talks with the Maoists.
"Just as Prime Minister Modi had said in Nepal that if the Maoists in Nepal can embrace Buddha from bullet, the Home Minister should have sent out a similar message. He should have called for talks and engaged them," he said.
Asking the Maoists not to be treated on the same wavelength as terrorists or separatists, Agnivesh offered his help to the government in holding talks with the ultras.
"Maoists are not terrorists. They are not demanding a separate state. They are not killing innocents in the cities. They are only killing policemen, who are running behind them in jungles. Sometimes they kill villagers terming them as police informers. I condemn all their violent acts. But at the same time, I want to say that this problem can be solved through talks," said Agnivesh.
"I have been saying this for over four years. The government must make a sincere effort and I am ready to assist them. But if the home minister has made such a statement, then I am afraid such statements cannot be deemed as responsible," he added.
Addressing the police personnel at the Rajasthan Police Academy earlier in the day, Rajnath said that he had given a free hand to the police personnel when he was the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and assured them that they would not be hassled by the human rights commission when tackling Maoists.
Rajnath, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from October 2000 to March 2002, revealed that he had then told the police officers that he would himself face the commission if the need arose.
"I remember when I was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, a huge region was reeling under the threat of Maoism and many officers had been killed. I asked all the senior police officers to accept this challenge," said Rajnath.
"The officers said that they were ready to face up against the Maoists but they faced challenges from other political leaders and the Human Rights Commission, which put them in the dock, asked all sorts of questions and harassed them. They said that they faced a huge problem because of that. I believed in them and told them that they shouldn't worry. If I have to face the Human Rights Commission, then I will face them as the Chief Minister of the state but won't let them face the commission," he added.
(Posted on 04-09-2014)