Redefine human rights in Indian context: Amit Shah

New Delhi: Human rights violations should not be limited to just custodial deaths and police atrocities, but must also include denial of basic facilities, like toilets, electricity and food, said Union Home Minister Amit Shah, here on Saturday.

Speaking on the occasion of the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) 26th Foundation Day, Shah said, “Global parameters should not be only parameters. It’s the time to redefine rights violations with the Indian perspective and should include poverty and violence in our society.”

Appreciating the NHRC’s attempts to make Indians aware of violations, he said the meaning of human rights violation for the international community and the Indian society was different because of the inherent differences in beliefs and circumstances. “It’s wrong to only look through the international prism,” he said.

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“Every households in towns and villages have their own ways to ensure that rights of not even a single individual are violated. Protecting human rights is in our tradition. There’s an inclusive system in our society and people have been working in this regard,” he said.

“The rights of children, women, the poor and the underprivileged sections are inbuilt in the society, within our family, without any intrusion from law,” Shah said.

The Home Minister said it’s time to redefine human rights violation as per the Indian parameters and also to connect with people striving to protect people’s rights across the country. The definition of human rights in India should be expanded, he added.

“Ensuring a synergy between our cultural values and the modern approach to rights would make India the best in the world in terms of human rights, Shah said.

He said Narsi Mehta’s hymn — Vaishnava jana to — sung by Mahatma Gandhi could be a better charter of human rights. Gandhi’s principles and values encompassed a wide scope of human rights, he added.

Shah hailed the rich literature and philosophy of human rights in the Indian culture and urged the NHRC to provide a platform to showcase them.

Pointing to multiple challenges with the biggest being eradication of poverty and violence, the Minister said, “There are people in India without house, electricity or cooking gas and toilets. Is it not rights violation.”

Remarking that the BJP government was working in this field for the last five years, Shah said, “Our government is providing electricity to households and free gas connections. Providing toilets is also the human rights of people and the Narendra Modi government has done a great work.”

Raising the terrorism and naxalism issue, he said denying justice to families of people killed was also violation of rights. “40,000 people have been killed since 1990 in Kashmir. Is not that an attack on human rights? Do the victims of terrorism in Kashmir no rights,” Shah said.

“We have zero tolerance against extra-judicial deaths, police atrocities. But we should also focus on terrorism and naxalism because they caused the biggest rights violations,” he said.

Remarking that literary works of saints explicitly talk about human rights and they gave us the ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, Shah said, “Concerns, like human rights, were inbuilt in our system.”

Justice H.L. Dattu, NHRC Chairman, said, “The commission was set up on October 12, 1993 to work for promotion and protection of human rights and take cognisance of such complaints wherein actions, inactions and omissions of government functionaries, prima facie or allegedly, cause rights violation.”

“Since inception, the commission has disposed of 18 lakh cases, ensured payment of over Rs 176 crore as relief to victims of rights violations by state agencies. From 496 cases in 1993-94 to 89,584 cases in 2018-19, the NHRC has come a long way and has been working tirelessly to promote awareness about human rights among people,” JUstice Dattu said.

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