National

Centre not against beef consumption: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

On a day when a special session of the Kerala Assembly was held to pass a resolution against the Centre’s notification banning the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets and fairs, Home Minister Rajnath Singh cited the Kerala High Court’s order in the case to assert that the Centre had done nothing to proscribe the consumption of beef.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu, he said there was absolutely no attempt by the government to stop people from eating food of their choice. “We understand the reality that there is cultural diversity in the country... You must have read what the Kerala High Court has said about the notification by the Ministry of Environment. There is no restriction on what people can eat. After the Kerala High Court’s order, there should be no element of doubt on this issue.”

 

He admitted that perceptions might persist that the notification banned consumption of beef. But, he insisted, it arose out of a “misunderstanding.”

“I believe that people will gradually realise that what they have perceived is wrong. Our party is not telling anyone what to eat, what to wear. If these perceptions persist, the Environment Ministry has asked for consultations on the notification and they will go into whether there are any shortcomings and what can be done to correct them,” he said.

Official language

Addressing another point of concern, the adoption by President Pranab Mukherjee of a report of the standing committee of Parliament on the preferred use of Hindi as the language for official communication, the Minister said there was no move to impose Hindi on anyone. “The report is a good one and I appreciate it. Hindi is the language spoken and understood by the largest number of Indians, and strength of numbers is, of course, one facet of democracy. The other is pluralism, also as important in a democracy, and therefore no language can be imposed on anyone,” he said.

Kashmir’s children

On Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Singh said he was ready to talk to any group and asked terror sponsors from across the border why they would not treat Kashmiri children (who have been out on the streets in this cycle of violence) as they would their own. “There are some forces, of our neighbouring country, who are trying to misguide and mislead the youth of Kashmir. Despite all this, I would maintain that these children who have picked up stones are also our children. I would like to tell those misguiding these children into violence to feel for them as they would for their own children, worry about the future of these children whom they are pushing into violence. People will expose the designs of these forces,” he said.

 

Full text of the interview:

‘There is no proscription on what people eat’

Home Minister Rajnath Singh speaks to The Hindu on beef, Kashmir, Hindi and why some NGOs were put under prior referral category….

You recently came out quite strongly on the issue of the US pull out from the Climate Change agreement.

It’s a question of saving humankind. Climate change affects everyone equally, not just those who live within a particular political boundary or the other. The wages of climate changes will be wrought on everyone. The entire international community is together on this and therefore the U.S. pull out is worrisome. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already expressed his support for the climate deal.

The one issue that dominated the third year of your tenure as home minister has been the escalating violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Many feel that the situation is irretrievable.

I don’t think it is an unresolvable issue. I am ready to speak to everyone who wants to talk on the issue. This is an internal matter of the country, Kashmiris are our people, so why wouldn’t we want to sit and resolve things. I have said this not once but several times.

It is said that this time around the situation is more dire, as school children are pelting stones and getting radicalised.

There are some forces, of our neighbouring country, who are trying to misguide and mislead the youth of Kashmir. Despite all this I would maintain that these children who have picked up stones are also our children. I would like to tell those misguiding these children into violence, to feel for them as they feel for their own children, as they worry about the future of their children, to worry about the future of these children whom they are pushing into violence. The people will expose the designs of these forces.

Lately we see that internet services are suspended every time there is an outbreak of violence. Is that really required or being heavy handed?

Law enforcement agencies take these steps to control the situation from getting out of hand. This is basically aimed at controlling rumour mongering in volatile situations, to control efforts by others to flare up these situations.

There was talk that servers of popular U.S. based social media applications be brought here.

We have taken steps to ensure cyber security. It’s my personal view that social media should not be misused. There are many uses of social media of course but when it is used to amplify rumours that adversely affect social harmony, to spread information pollution, that should be checked. I will be taking this up.

There have been several incidents of violence in Kerala especially in spats between the BJP and the Left Front, what do you intend to do?

It is unfortunate and I have spoken to the Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) several times that it should stop. He has assured me that he will try to check this. I believe that the primary responsibility of any state government is to maintain law and order and Kerala government should also keep this in mind. Whoever tries to spread violence, wreck social harmony they should be punished.

There are also people in the garb of cow protection indulging in vigilantism and lynching. Shouldn’t that be ended too?

Our government, including Prime Minister Modi has said that these things should not be allowed to take place. In various places it is the responsibility of state governments to act against those who take the law into their own hands.

The new notification by the ministry of environment and forests has, however made transport of cattle extremely hazardous.

You must have read what the Kerala high court has said about the notification by the ministry of environment. There is no proscription on what people can eat. After the Kerala high court’s order, there should be no element of doubt on this issue.

But it does it not impair availability of buffalo meat and hence is an indirect proscription, is it not?

There is absolutely no attempt by the government to stop people from eating the food of choice. We understand the reality that there is cultural diversity in the country, despite this we are one country.

But BJP members in Meghalaya have left the party on this issue.

Whatever has happened (in Meghalaya) is because the notification has been misunderstood. Kerala High Court’s pronouncement in this matter should be read again. I believe that people will gradually realise that what they have perceived is wrong. Our party is not telling anyone what to eat, what to wear. If these perceptions persist, the environment ministry has asked for consultations on the notification, and they will go into the details of whether there are any shortcomings in the notifications, what can be done to correct it.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your tenure as home minister?

As a whole, internal security is my responsibility, with the cooperation of the state governments. We are operating within the federal structure as laid out by the constitution, so whatever we do, we try to take chief ministers along. As far as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is concerned, we have been able to improve the situation.

Human rights groups say that many of the surrenders of LWE have been faked by law enforcement agencies.

I don’t believe that this is true. Those who have surrendered have not claimed it to be so. They came to a realisation that they must leave the route of violence and they have.

It is also alleged that most surrenders occurred when IG of police in Chattisgarh, S.R.P. Kalluri, who human rights activists have accused of rather forceful tactics, was at the helm of affairs.

Certainly not. Many surrenders have taken place after his time. Just yesterday there were some surrenders in Jharkhand, many in Chattisgarh. Our effort is always to expedite surrenders if someone wants to, not to subvert the law in any way.

Did you fear large scale violence during demonetisation?

It was a move that has done much to combat black money. I want to thank the people of India, who undertook this short term pain, but welcomed demonetisation for the long term benefit of the country.

Is there any assessment of how it has affected terror funding?

I cannot offer exact figures in the course of this interview but I have authentic knowledge that it has come down.

The proliferation of fake currency, that demonetistaion was supposed to check is still on.

It’s there but there are strong efforts to combat it. Nobody can claim that wrongdoing will end. There are always people who do not eschew the path of wrong doing. We will act against them.

The MHA cancelled the FCRA licenses of few NGOs like Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), which was primarily funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Reason?

We have not banned any NGO, but only put some of them under prior referral category and action has been taken against those who have not filed returns. The NGOs will have to account for the foreign funds they receive, we only wanted utilisation certificates of the amount spent by them. This is not a banana republic that you get money from, somewhere and spend without being accounted for.

But both the BJP and Congress have been accused of accepting foreign donations from U.K based Vedanta, which is a violation of FCRA. Delhi HC has given a clean chit to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in a similar case.

AAP has not been given a clean chit, the matter is subjudice.

There were reports in the international press that American donor Compassion International was approached by RSS to lift the restrictions​ put on them MHA.

I don’t have any such knowledge.

Did representatives of Compassion International meet you?

A. Yes, they did. We haven’t done any excess against them. Why did they shut shop? All we are saying is that give us the account of the money you sent to NGOs here and how it was spent. They will have to abide by rules and regulations. How can we give them a free hand to misuse the funds?

There was a pressure from the U.S government regarding restrictions against Compassion International

We have cordial relations.

Will you give an assurance to CI that they can come back?

This is what we have said. What comeback? We never banned them, only put them under PRC. Asked them to file returns, why are they objecting to it? Just inform us where you are spending, get money from wherever you want.

It gave an impression that government was cracking down against Christian missionaries

We don’t differentiate on the basis of caste, creed and religion.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS outfit, campaigned against BMGF, will you take action the latter?

I am not bothered with anyone’s campaign, It's not my area of concern on what aspects they (SJM) are objecting to. My duty is to ensure that the NGOs should be accountable for the money they get, we will be alert on this. We don’t categorise who is influential or not.

Have you had ideological differences with chief ministers of Opposition ruled states like West Bengal, Tripura and Delhi?

Ideological differences have always been there, its an inherent character of Indian culture.

When you went to Kolkata, you didn’t name Mamata Bannerjee when your party has been attacking her quite vehemently?

I said what I wanted to say. Personal attacks on rivals is not my way. We have a federal structure and have to take everyone along. There could be difference of opinion but it’s a healthy tradition.

In the wake of recent caste violence in Saharanpur, it is being said that Rajputs have become aggressive after Yogi Adityanath, also a Rajput, became the CM.

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has taken the Saharanpurcaste violence very seriously. It’s unfortunate. Whatever action state government has taken is justified. I advised him that law and order situation should be controlled and focus on development and poverty alleviation.

It's been two years since a framework agreement with NSCN-IM was signed, there has been no progress.

It will take time, it's an old issue, the interlocutor is in talks. Framework agreement would be materialized. Complex issues can only be solved through dialogue.

If there are interlocutors to address the problem of Naga and ULFA (Assam) insurgency talks, why not Kashmir?

I have always said we are ready for a dialogue. When I am saying we are ready for talks, they should come forward.

Who are 'they' you are referring to?

Those who want to talk should come forward. Like in NorthEast, different organisations said they wanted to talk, so we spoke to them. But we cant allow anyone to take law into their hand and to cause violence. We will take as firm action as possible.

Are NIA raids on Hurriyat leaders a sign of political will?

NIA is an autonomous organisation, government has not intervened. Agencies got some information and the raids were carried out subsequently.

There are allegations by DMK that BJP is turning India into Hindia

We respect Hindi as we do other Indian languages, and want that all the other languages to prosper. There is no resistance to any other language in the parliamentary standing committee report. Hindi is the language spoken and understood by the maximum number of Indians, and strength of numbers is of course one facet of democracy. The other is pluralism, also as important in a democracy and therefore no language can be imposed on anyone without their compliance.

The boundary issue with China has been lingering on for over 40 years

There has been a huge reduction in transgressions along the China border. Our NSA is talking to them.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 7:20:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-not-against-beef-consumption-rajnath/article18854483.ece

Next Story