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India's finance minister supports sedition charges against Amnesty

Published Aug 21, 2016 07:21pm


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NEW DELHI: India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley appeared on Sunday to support police in a row over free speech that saw Amnesty slapped with sedition charges for an event about the disputed Kashmir region.

Police in the southern city of Bangalore filed the initial charges last week following complaints that slogans on independence for the troubled region had been chanted at the event organised by the rights group.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley compared the freedom slogans to those at another event earlier this year at a prestigious New Delhi university that saw a student leader arrested on sedition charges.

“During an event in Bangalore, there were slogans for freedom (from India)... it was organised by a group that receives a lot of funding from abroad,” Jaitley said at a rally in the Jammu part of the Himalayan state that includes Kashmir, without directly naming Amnesty.

“In Delhi, there were slogans calling for destruction of the country... raising slogans that advocate breaking the nation into pieces cannot be seen as freedom of speech and expression,” he said.

Jaitley was referring to the rally in February at the university in which slogans were chanted that led to the student's arrest, sparking a major row over freedom of expression in India.

Sedition carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, although convictions are rare.

In the latest case Amnesty denied its staff made any such comments on independence for Kashmir. It said the charges showed a lack of “fundamental rights and freedoms in India”.

Amnesty has said the event was focused on human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir which has been reeling from weeks of deadly violence between protesters and security forces.

Police have said they will investigate who made the comments following complaints from a Hindu nationalist student group.

Rights campaigners have long accused India's governments of using the British-era sedition law to clamp down on dissent.

Sedition charges have been used in the past against supporters of independence for Kashmir.

At least 63 civilians have been killed and more than 6,000 injured in the most recent clashes between protesters and security forces, sparked by the killing of a top militant.


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Comments (7) Closed

umg Aug 21, 2016 08:37pm

Anything too much is too bad.India's tolerance was limitless ,enabling anti nationals to take us for granted.Any way better late than never.Well said FM.

Gaz Aug 21, 2016 09:33pm

Childish country desperate to be a superpower and respected but it's just not happening.

Anwar Amjad Aug 21, 2016 10:16pm

Kashmir is not part of India but disputed territory that needs settlement according to the wishes of the people.

Vivek (Indore) Aug 22, 2016 12:28am

Not only the finance minister, we all support the action taken against Amnesty.

Rizwan Khan Aug 22, 2016 07:45am

Biggest democracy in the world. And secular at that. Just see how they treat Muslims, Dalits Christians and Sikhs

Sudhir Neyalasinger Aug 22, 2016 08:18am

@Anwar Amjad Wishes of what people? The majority of the people in J&K resides not in the valley but in Jammu and Ladakh put together. Even in the valley, the peace loving lot would prefer to stay with India. Since it is a minority that does not want to be in India the government can give them the option of going and settling in any country of their choice that will accept them.

Kamal Pasha. Aug 22, 2016 12:18pm

@Sudhir Neyalasinger, How can Kashmiri Muslims be happy when so many their Muslims brothers and sisters were killed in Gujrat when Modi was CM and again how can they be happy when Muslims are again killed in Kashmir when Modi is PM. If you thing they are happy, why affraid of plebicite?