Union Minister Kiren Rijiju speaks exclusively to NewsX over the JNU row:
NewsX: The government has claimed that the LeT and Hafiz Saeed are behind the JNU agitation. Sir, what proof does the govt have to substantiate this claim?
Kiren Rijiju: The government runs on the basis of mechanism and there is a system. If every intelligence input and information available with the government is to be shared and debated and discussed, this is not the way how the government functions. Having said that, there is a clear case before hand. This is a case of Afzal Guru who has been convicted by the highest court of India after following the entire legal process. Hafiz Saeed and the companies have been openly supporting Afzal Guru and here this group of students, so called group of elements in India, are also hailing the status of Afzal Guru. So there is a complete convergence of the stance taken by Hafiz Saeed and associates and these people. This is the matter before the whole country to see that who are is what.
NewsX: Given the fact that the Congress is accusing you of manufacturing this claim will you release the proof in the public domain?
Kiren Rijiju: When the Home Minister of India makes a claim or makes a statement you cannot make it a piece of paper to be thrown into garbage. You can’t make it a frivolous issue. You have to accept the matter seriously in all purpose and support the effort of the govt. We are determined to secure this nation, and at the same time we will not tolerate anything or any act which is against the interest of this country.
NewsX: The charge is NDA took this stand after erroneously jumping on a tweet from an unverified handle of Hafiz Saeed?
Kiren Rijiju: The Congress and the left party leaders, they have wrongly presumed that the home minister goes through somebody’s tweets and then makes a statement. How can they say that the tweet, whatever must have appeared in the name of Hafiz Saeed is the basis of home minister’s statement? This is totally unbecoming on the part of these people to make such an issue when a serious matter is there before hand, and when the govt is taking strong steps to ensure that a very prestigious university is not misused by the anti-national elements and so everybody must stand behind the govt.
NewsX: A public intellectual, Bhanu Pratap Mehta, has written that the govt is using nationalism to crush constitutional patriotism, legal tyranny to crush dissent, political power to settle petty scores and administrative powers to destroy institutions. Your reaction?
Kirean Rijiju: This is very unfortunate. We are not debating on the freedom of expression. We are not debating on the liberal issues before the country. We are just simply dealing with the elements who are working against the interest of this nation. Now, fFreedom of expression cannot be absolute and unqualified, and if it is in favor of a group and does not amount to abusing the nation then its fine. We have a different philosophy behind the formation of BJP. The Congress party has a different kind of philosophy. The Left parties have a different kind of ideology. So we may have different thought processes, and there is nothing wrong in having different opinions. But what I am saying is as long as we do not abuse our own country, then having a different opinion is okay. These people who write these articles, that you are quoting now, is fine. But here to say that govt is crushing an institution or taking over the JNU campus is wrong. We have clearly sad said that if actions are to be taken,. It has to be taken only against those elements who are found to be involved in anti-national activities, not the entire students, not the entire teacher fraternity. Majority of teachers and professors in JNU are okay. There are a few elements; we have to clear those elements, that’s all.
NewsX: The accusation is that unless there was actual incitement to violence, the rush to slap sedition charge under Section 124 a is an unwarranted over- reaction?
Kirean Rijiju: This is a process which has to be taken forward by the law enforcement agencies. As a minister it would not be proper to speak about the steps to be taken. We can only tell the police to take strong action against anti-social or anti-national elements, but we cannot say that arrest him or arrest the other person. We can’t define who is where, who is to be brought in. Who should be booked under a particular law., This is the matter to be investigated by the agencies.
NewsX: NDA is acting selectively. Rahul Gandhi says why hasn’t the govt booked certain Right- wing groups like the Hindu Maha Sabha who have called for eulogising Godse?
Kiren Rijiju: Somebody must teach a good patriotism lesson to Rahul Gandhi. As I said earlier, you may have good words about Nathuram Godse. I have found some people even using some kind of bad words against the Father of the Nation. No actions are being taken against those people because they have their own right to express their opinion. What I am stressing is as long as you don’t abuse the motherland, as long as you don’t speak about splitting India into pieces, as long as you don’t say that we will not rest until India is brought into pieces, then it’s fine. That is what I am saying. Rahul Gandhi and the Left leaders do not know the explanation about what the patriotism is all about. They should go to places like Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh and learn patriotism from those villagers who have never experienced the comfortable life of this nation.. But they still say ‘Jai Hind’ and stand for the nation. You have to understand and make a line between what is national interest and what is individual freedom of expression and liberty.
NewsX: Rahul Gandhi says that the government is being run by RSS bullies, Godse worshippers and Hitler acolytes. Your response to Rahul Gandhi?
Kirean Rijiju: That is what I am saying. I am saying you may support an individual, you may abuse an individual, but as long as he does not abuse the nation, he does not abuse India that is fine.