Melbourne: Justifying action against JNU and Hyderabad University students, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said if slogans are openly raised for persons who bombed Mumbai or attacked Parliament then one must expect some “ideological reaction” from those who do not agree with this.
“India is a very strong democracy. Only time we came close to losing democracy was somewhere in mid 70s for a brief period. India has shown a great resilience in coming back as a democracy,” Jaitley, who delivered a public lecture at the Melbourne university here, said while answering questions from the audience.
He stressed that it was important to understand the incidents that took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Hyderabad University.
Referring to his days as a protester during the emergency, Jaitley said, “I had spent 19 months in jail and our commitment to freedom of speech is second to none.”
Taking a dig at Congress, he said those who are supporting the JNU protests today were the ones who supported emergency.
Jaitley said apart from poverty, India was worst affected by terrorism.
“You have an incident in 1993 where close to 300 people are killed and thousand injured…after long judicial process, trial after trial, one is found guilty,” he said, adding that, “celebration and support for that one man is organised in one campus that is Hyderabad.”
Citing the 2001 Parliament attack, Jaitley said even in this case, one man was found guilty and his supporters organised celebrations in JNU campus.
Jaitley said, in the two cases, after due process of law and several appeals and acquittals two people were found guilty.
“If you openly raised slogans for those who bombed Mumbai or attacked Parliament and then said our object is to break India…surely you expect some ideological reaction from those who don’t agree with this and most of India does not agree (with it),” he said.
Asked if India would ever get rid of reservations, Jaitley said, “the historical backlog of deprivation is so large…That I don’t think that even after 68 years of post independence and almost 64 years of Constitution, we have really set it apart.”
He said job reservations were the first ray of hope for Scheduled Caste people.
“There are still socially and historically deprived sections which need the benefits. The tribals have still not been benefited significantly,” Jaitley said, adding that India may not be able to get rid of reservations for a long time.
In his lecture, Jaitley listed the various schemes undertaken by the Narendra Modi-led government.
JNU is caught in a row over an event against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which anti- national slogans were allegedly raised.