Under attack from the BJP, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday insisted that his directive to states to ensure that no innocents are wrongfully detained in the name of terror was not specific to Muslims and he meant youths from all minority communities.
Speaking at a national awareness camp for scheduled castes empowerment, the Minister said there was "nothing new" in his letter to all chief ministers. He stressed that he had used the term "Muslim" only in the first two paragraphs and the word minorities in the rest of the communication asking the states to ensure that no innocents are harassed by police.
Shinde said the opposition have read his letter in ways that suited them.
"I had sent a circular to all chief ministers. This is not a new thing that I have done. Only in the first two paragraphs of the letter I used the word Muslim. That is because I had received some representations from them. I used the word minorities in the rest of the letter," he said.
He regretted that "some people read it differently".
Shinde noted that circulars are often sent for action against police personnel who do not write down complaints of people.
"We look at all communities as one," he said.
On September 30, the Home Minister had written letters to all Chief Ministers asking them to ensure that no Muslim youth is wrongfully detained or harassed in the name of terror. He had said that the Centre has been receiving various representations on the issue.
Accusing the Congress of pursuing a "divisive agenda", BJP had asked its chief ministers to trash Shinde's directive.
"...are you the home minister for the country or for one community. It is irresponsible, idiotic approach of the government of India," senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu had said.
Emphasising that the government is committed to its core principle of combating terrorism, Shinde had said authorities should ensure that no innocent person is subjected to undue harassment.
"Some of the minority youth have started feeling that they are deliberately targeted and deprived of their basic rights," he wrote.