Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday rejected BJP leader Arun Jaitley's charge that the Union government has abdicated its duty to protect the country's unity and integrity by allowing a seminar here on Thursday in which anti-India voices were raised. He said the police would take action in accordance with law over the speeches made by hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others.
“I strongly reject Arun Jaitley's charge that the Centre was doing nothing when a seminar was held on Thursday in which Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others participated,'' Mr. Chidambaram said in a statement.
The Minister said the authorities had videographed the entire seminar and submitted them to legal advisers for their opinion whether law was volated. “If it is established prima facie that the laws have been violated, the Delhi Police will take action in accordance with the law.''
Mr. Chidambaram's reaction came within hours of Mr. Jaitley's statement.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha accused the government of “looking the other way'' when a number of separatist groups met at a convention on Kashmir to say that India cannot be one and must be broken.
Mr. Jaitley said:
“It is dismaying to note that the Central government did not take any preventive measures and has not taken any action to punish the guilty. It should not forget that there are two responsibilities and obligations of the state – to prevent such events and to punish the offenders.
“The BJP is outraged by open anti-India sentiments and demand for sedition at the seminar and finds these as absolutely unacceptable. The whole country was shocked when separatists met under the nose of the Central government to encourage sedition in India.
“Democracy and freedom of expression does not give anybody a right to demand sedition. No democracy permits right to sedition. But some misconceived representatives of civil society have advocated it as free speech. The freedom of speech and expression is a constitutional guarantee, but with certain restrictions. If anybody speaks against the sovereignty of India, such exercise comes under penal law – offences against State.''
Other prominent speakers at the convention on Kashmir, ‘Azadi-The Only Way,' were noted writer Arundhati Roy and Maoist leader Varavara Rao.