The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No room for state terror: PM

New Delhi, Nov. 11: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did a delicate balancing act while speaking on human rights this evening and dubbed “terrorism fuelled by religion” as the greatest enemy of human rights.

The Prime Minister also spoke out against state terrorism and called for greater accountability from state agencies.

“Without accountability, agencies of the state can misuse their authority and infringe on the rights of citizens, especially those who are poor and weak,” Vajpayee said. His words of caution come at a time when the Diwali-eve action at Ansal Plaza has led to confusion and speculation over police excesses.

Two people were gunned down, but doubts continue to surface on whether they were actually Lashkar-e-Toiba militants. The police were applauded for their good work but some believed it was a frame-up.

The Prime Minister did not make any reference to the Ansal Plaza incident. But he said there could not be any justification for excesses by state agencies. “Incidents of this nature must be checked and the guilty brought to book,” he said.

Vajpayee also hit out against the dangers of terrorism injected with religious passion.

“We have to recognise the truth that the single greatest enemy of human rights today is terrorism fuelled by religious extremism. It strikes at innocent lives. It targets the symbols of our freedoms. As we have seen in Jammu and Kashmir, Northern Ireland and other troubled spots, it has deprived entire generations of their birthright of normal existence, peaceful development and economic progress,” he said.

The Prime Minister pointed to the double standards of many western democracies and asked them not to keep lecturing the East on human rights.

“Some countries arrogate to themselves the task of lecturing to developing countries on how we should promote human rights. Sometimes this takes the form of interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations,” Vajpayee said, while inaugurating the Asia-Pacific forum of the national human rights institutions here.

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