National Herald: Geneva: Saturday, May 06, 2017.
“Different members of the government are speaking in different voices – abroad they speak of a vibrant political debate in the country and in India, those who speak up are targeted and slandered,” was the amused reaction of several people on Thursday evening while watching the Indian delegation led by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mount a spirited defence of India at the UN Human Rights Council.
Earlier reviews of India’s track record had taken place in 2008 and 2012.
Member countries on Thursday reminded how India has been constantly delaying the ratification of the Convention Against Torture, denying rights to minorities and playing it up as a perception problem. Inclusive development is a key word used by Indian delegates in foreign fora. And Rohatgi on Thursday spoke with flourish on the Government’s initiatives such as Make in India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachh Bharat (Clean India) and Jan Dhan Yojana.
Not surprisingly, he made no mention of cow vigilante groups (Gau goons), imprisonment of Muslims as terrorists, lynching of cattle traders, crackdown on NGOs, Ghar Wapsi or Love Jihad.
CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE
“The talk to ratify the convention against torture has been going on since 1997. In 2012, the Prevention of Torture Bill was formulated and then sent to Rajya Sabha for recommendations. And after that nothing much has happened,” said Vrinda Grover, lawyer and human rights activist. adding that no steps were being taken to pass that legislature.
She said that in a response to an RTI (Right to Information) she had filed, it was stated that the Centre only intends to amend Sections 330 and 331. “But these sections are limited in scope and do not meet the requirement,” she said. The matter has now been referred to a Law Commission, which will deliberate on the matter. There have been large scale deliberations, but nothing has happened. “Now, at the convention, they have said that they are committed to a complete legislation. Those who speak up against this are targeted and slandered,” said Grover.
“Culture of torture is completely alien to Indian culture,” said Rohatgi at the UPR, adding, “Our government’s motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, that is, ‘All together and development for all’ is a true reflection of our commitment to achieve inclusive development in the spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’.”