Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that India’s human rights policy should focus on the rights of civilians killed by extremists as much as it does on police brutality and custodial deaths, The Indian Express reported. Shah said that the human rights violations perpetrated by militants and Maoist groups should be viewed “with an Indian outlook”.

Shah said that western standards of human rights should not be applied to matters pertaining to India. “Women not having access to toilets and safe methods of cooking is a human rights issue,” the home minister said as the chief guest of the 26th foundation day of the National Human Rights Commission. “Modi government has ensured upliftment of millions of individuals from these situations.”

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the country was veering towards a future without any human rights violations, Shah said. He claimed that families operated on an “in-built framework of human rights”, adding that Indian values ensured protection of women and children, and villages looked after the economically backward as “part of their dharma [duty]”.

The home minister also called for a need to unite the “new concept” of human rights with the traditional one. “I know when I say human rights, people see the meaning as police atrocities and custodial deaths, which is a fact,” Shah said, according to The Hindu. “We have no objections. Every citizen should get the Constitutionally-guaranteed protection. But there are so many other dimensions, which we have to see with different perspectives.”

Shah was accused of being involved in the custodial death of three people in Gujarat during his tenure as the state’s home minister. The Central Bureau of Intelligence booked him with complicity in the fake encounter case of Kausar Bi, her husband Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his associate Tulsiram Prajapati. However, a special court dismissed charges against him in December 2014. This was the same year Modi took charge as prime minister for the first time.

In the 2014 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the CBI had looked into Shah’s involvement but concluded that they had no evidence to charge him. Senior officials, involved in the episode, were later charged.

The Union home minister’s name also cropped up during the 2013 ‘Snoopgate’ controversy in which audio recordings of Shah and other police officials about surveilling a woman had surfaced. The Gujarat government had initiated an inquiry that concluded the surveillance was conducted on the request of the woman’s father.

At the Saturday event, NHRC Chairperson HL Dattu said the Centre had supported the commission in fulfilling its mandate and added that Shah’s presence was encouraging. The human rights commission had realised its mandate by addressing matters related to bonded labour and custodial deaths, he added.

The number of pending cases with commission had reduced significantly with only those filed in 2017 remain to be resolved. The NHRC has reportedly passed judgements on 691 cases and provided compensation to the tune of Rs 25.38 crore, according to The Indian Express.

Last month, Shah had said that the lack of a phone connection did not amount to human rights violation. The government had imposed restrictions on public movement and communications in Jammu and Kashmir on August 4, a day before it revoked the state’s special constitutional status. The administration said the restrictions were important to prevent law and order problems and curb terrorist activity.

Restrictions were lifted from Jammu and Ladakh regions within a few weeks, but daily activity remains affected in parts of Kashmir. All postpaid mobile phone lines will be operational in Kashmir from October 14. Fixed landline phone services had already been restored in September.

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