Western Standards on Human Rights Can't Be Blindly Applied to India: Amit Shah

The home minister was speaking at the National Human Rights Commission's 26th foundation day.

New Delhi: Addressing the National Human Rights Commission, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Saturday that “Western” standards of human rights cannot be “blindly” applied to India. He also argued that India’s human rights policy must take into account those killed by militants or Naxals in the same way that it does victims of police atrocities and custodial deaths.

“There is no bigger violation of human rights than those affected by militants in Kashmir or Naxals. We must look at these issues with an Indian outlook,” Shah said, according to Indian Express. He was speaking at the NHRC’s 26th foundation day.

The Narendra Modi government has done its bit to increase people’s standard of living and thereby ensure more human rights, Shah said. “Women not having access to toilets and safe methods of cooking is a human rights issue. Modi government has ensured upliftment of millions of individuals from these situations.”

Human rights, Shah argued, are intrinsic to traditional Indian values. “India has an inbuilt framework of human rights. Our family values have special protection of women and children, and villages look after the poor believing it to be part of their dharma.”

The NHRC has existed as a body for 26 years, since 1993, and has reportedly disposed of nearly 18 lakh cases. It has directed about Rs 176 crore of relief to various victims of human rights violations.

The current chairperson of the NHRC, a quasi-judicial body with the powers of a civil court, is Justice H.L. Dattu.

As Union home minister, Shah being invited to speak at the NHRC is not be surprising. However, his own record on ensuring human rights has been questionable. As The Wire has reported before, he is perhaps the first incumbent to have once been accused of  a serious violation of human rights – involvement in the custodial killing of three persons in Gujarat while he was home minister in the state government.

Shah’s name also featured in the ‘Snoopgate’ controversy in 2013 – in which audio recordings of Shah and senior police officers supervising the tailing and tapping of a young woman surfaced. An inquiry by the Gujarat state government subsequently declared that the snooping had been carried out at the behest of the woman’s father, who claimed he had been worried about the security of his (adult) daughter.