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Legal Eagle: Salman Khurshid Speaks On Law For Forceful Conversion, Twitter Vs Centre Row And More

Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid talked on his early life and ongoing demand to set up a central agency which will act as a watchdog on stop forced conversions

Image Credits: RepublicWorld

In this week’s edition of ‘Legal Eagle With Rhythm’, Congress leader and Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid talked on his early life and the ongoing demand to set up a central agency that will act as a watchdog on the illegal forced conversions following a huge conversion racket was unearthed in Uttar Pradesh. 

Salman Khurshid's early life

Talking about his early life and his teaching stint at the Oxford University, Salman Khurshid said, "There has been law in the family, my grandfather Dr. Zakir Hussain, his father was very deeply involved in law. He passed away very young praciticism law in Hyderabad Court. By then he had written several books. So in that sense, there was some law in the family. But for practical purposes I am a first-generation lawyer. My family too was not deeply involved in politics. My grandfather came to public life because Pandit Nehru and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi brought him at a very high level in public life. Otherwise, he was educationist, he remained a teacher, Vice-Chancellor in Aligarh University."

Talking about his education in Oxford University, Salman Khurshid said, "I could not have imagined that I can get into Oxford and if I got into Oxford then I would teach, I did not really have a mentor who would see me through. I just insisted, my father let me go to Oxford. I did not know how I would pay my way through Oxford as I had a small scholarship but British Council provided me with a fee waiver."

Salman Khurshid also revealed that after he completed his studies in Oxford he applied for teaching. "There was an opening to start teaching law in the Trinity College. I applied and I got selected so I taught for three years. At the end of three years I should have reinstated on to become a full-time tutor which would have been a lifetime commitment, so I chose to come back to India," added Salman Khurshid.  

Salman Khurshid on theatre

Salman Khurshid also responded to his comment 'fond of theatre as it's an integration of culture' and revealed that he was been a theatre artist before he went to Oxford. "You do theatres, you do sports, you do declamation, debating and then if you want more excitement then you do trekking you go up to the hills, you do camping. So I did all of that. Theatre caught my fancy, it was something that made your spirits go high."

Salman Khurshid also revealed that during his play of Pygmalion he met his wife Louis who was also playing the role of 'Eliza' 

Salman Khurshid on 'bear-hug' picture with Atal Bihari Vajpayee

"I went back to fight back my next election and the picture that was on the front cover of the magazine was converted into thousands of copies which were put out in Muslim areas saying that I had a deal with Atal Bihari Vajpayee. We lost that election. Having lost that election,  I came back and met Mr. Vajpayee at a party. He came up to me and said what happened its so sad that you are not in parliament. I said only thanks to you Mr. Vajpayee, Your bear-hug went from house to house and cost me my seat.  He had a very good laugh about that," said Salman Khurshid.

"But things changed subsequently, I had some pictures, other pictures sitting with Mr. Vajpayee, Mr. Narsimha Rao again taken at the same time when we had returned from Geneva. They showed the demolition of Babari Masjid as all these happened and there we were sitting back and having a good laugh and that cost me another election," added Salman Khurshid. 

Salman Khurshid on Anna movement

"I had a good equation with Mr. Kejriwal, his colleagues, I have known Kiran Bedi for a long time. But when Mr. Pranab Mukherjee was leading our negotiations with India against the corruption group they played dirty. They did think we were hurtful but for us it was important that we had to find some way to overcome the stalemate. What was really important was breakthrough that stalemate and look forward and fortunately one was able to use one's communication that still survived and talk to them and get them to accept of what we needed and wanted," said Salman Khurshid. 

Salman Khurshid on 'Anti Conversion racket' in UP

Salman Khurshid who is also Congress' Chief of Party manifesto in Uttar Pradesh was asked about the ongoing demand to set up a central agency to look illegal forced conversion. 

On that, Salman Khurshid said, "If money is coming of conversion for some unwholesome things, if it's coming from any form of terrorism, any form of undermining India's security you should be absolutely ruthless with such people. Who tells you not to be ruthless. But to just spread the word that there is this thing happening on large scale, I think it's a very irresponsible thing.

"There is a law in this country against forceful conversion, that law should be explicitly and strictly applied. You can't keep talking about we need another law, we need to do something extra.  Why aren't they doing something they are responsible for? Apply the law and take whatever actions you want to take. Nobody is stopping you but I do belive that this is perhaps being done for variety of reasons," added the Congress leader. 

"One of the reason is to create an atmosphere in the country in which people begin to suspect each other, people begin to dislike each other and to hate each other. I think this is the greatest betrayal of India. If you want India to be safe and secure you got to do what brings people together," Khurshid further stated. 

On ATS revelations that thousands of conversions have been taken in place in various states of India, Salman Khursid said, "ATS says there are lots of things happening and what does ATS show at its record of convictions in court only 6 percent. So, when they come what they believe a watertight chargesheet, they dont get the conviction, so should overturn the law of the country because ATS can't get conviction, simply because they are thoroughly incompetent?"

"If they were competent we would have at least 30,40 or 50 percent conviction. So, I don't buy this story, but there is something unwholesome things going on that needs to be addressed but ATS must address it, the Police in UP must address it. And then come clean with the record what they have done and what are the circumstances they have done it," added Khurshid.  

Salman Khurshid over Twitter row

Salman Khurshid also talked about the ongoing row with Twitter and the continuous distortion of India's map, Khurshid said that there are issues that law should be respected outside the world and there are issues about the law in our country now as Indians we obviously have to follow the laws of our country but we have to keep in mind what the standard on the world is. We have to find sensible accommodation between the standard of the world and our own requirements. I think we can't be too cagey, so that we can go back to something which we have suddenly created called Koo. 

(Image Credits: RepublicWorld)

Rhythm Anand Bhardwaj is the Executive Editor - Law & Governance at Republic Media Network. She has over a decade's experience in covering courts, and politics. She has covered ICJ hearings at the Hague and extradition hearings at London. She has reported from Kabul. She was also a Supreme Court Lawyer. Reach out to her at @Rhythms22

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