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Arun Jaitley, Govt's Kashmir Policy & Human Rights groups: A prelude to silencing and crushing the human rights movement in India?

Mr. Ravi Kiran Jain, National President

Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary

Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, former President, National PUCL and founder member, PUCL has issued a rejoinder to Arun Jaitley's article posted in the Facebook titled'Govt's Kashmir policy not muscular, fidayeens can't be dealt with satyagrah'. Prof. Sinha, addresses Jaitley's criticism that human rights organisations like PUCL and PUDR were infiltrated in the 1980's by the ultra –left leading to disillusionment of liberals leading to them leaving these organisations. Jaitley alludes to these organisations as being apologists of Maoists and Jihadists who only espouse the cause of separatism and violence – in Chhattisgarh or Kashmir – and have “brought a bad name to a very previous and valuable concept of human rights”.

Prof Sinha points out that Jaitley's article is “an attempt to justify the free hand given to the armed forces in Kashmir to take liberty with the life and liberty of the Kashmiris in a bid to fight the militants. He (Jaitley) justifies the use of unrestrained force by the security forces against a suspected terrorist who is not fighting but is just hiding”. Prof. Sinha points out that, “The PUCL continues to disapprove of violence as a means of resolving political problems and issues, but holds that even those who resort to violence must be dealt with according to the law of the land. The rulers mislead the people into believing that the human rights organisations which stand for the protection of human rights of the alleged Maoists or terrorists are supporters of their ideologies or causes”.

Stressing that “Arun Jaitley, who was very closely associated with the formation of the PUCL, resorts to a downright lie, when he alleges that in the early 80s the ultra-left infiltrated into the PUCL. The PUCL Constitution adopted at the 1980 conference mandated that the PUCL should bring together all who were committed to the defence and promotion of civil liberties in India, regardless of their political ideology”. Thus, “All the liberals and the members of the political parties, including Arun Jaitley, who joined the PUCL were fully aware of the Constitution they had framed and adopted and were fully conscious that no person was an untouchable or an outcaste for the PUCL, if the person subscribed to its aims and objects and pledged to abide by its Constitution”. Pointing out that even Ravi Shankar Prasad (the present Union Law Minister), than an ABVP member, was elected as Secretary, Bihar PUCL in 1981 and thereafter was elected General Secretary of Bihar State PUCL unit in 1988, which post he left only after he joined the BJP because of PUCL's rule that members of political parties cannot be office bearers of PUCL. Exposing the double speak of Arun Jaitley, Prof. Sinha points out that “The fact is that the political elements left the PUCL when they came close to coming to power and later turned oppressors and violators of human rights and civil liberties when they became rulers. They could not remain in the PUCL in their new Avatar as an oppressor”.

Answering Jaitley's highly objectionable and unsubstantiated statement that “The liberals got disillusioned with the Maoist takeover of the civil liberties movement. A few were too gullible not to understand this”. Prof. Sinha points out that:

“Arun Jaitley's gullible liberals who remained with the PUCL till the end include V.M. Tarkunde, Rajindar Sachar, Rajani Kothari, Prof. Amrik Singh, H.M. Seervai, Asghar Ali Engineer, Nayantara Sehgal, Hemlata Prabhu, Aloo Dastoor, M.A.Rane , Baba Adhav , R.B. Mehrotra (Justice ), Dev Brat N Pathak, Yashpal Chhibbar, to name only a few. It is not easy to accept that they were so gullible and blind as Jaitley suggests”. (italics ours)Prof. Sinha draws attention to the fact that the true intention of Jaitley's diatribe against PUCL and human rights organisations is to “destroy the credibility and also to criminalise and victimise” the human rights groups for exposing and opposing human rights violations committed by state security agencies, which is inevitable under the so called `muscularapproach'.

All across India today, we are witnessing rising social violence in the form of lynchings, hate killings and mob violence and state terrorism and state violence, as vividly demonstrated in the targetted killing of 13 innocent people in the anti-Sterlite police firing in Thoothukudi district of TN. In this context, it appears that Jaitley's article is a chilling warning to all human rights defenders, that their personal safety and lives are no longer going to be safe. This Prof. Sinha concludes is akin to “a case of giving a bad name to a dog if one has decided to shoot him”.

PUCL will not be cowed down by such threats; we reiterate our commitment to uphold the Indian Constitution, Constitutional values, human rights ethos and rule of law. We attach the full Rejoinder issued by Prof. Sinha for your reference and coverage in your media organisation.

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