Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not human rights violation, asserts CRPF on Naxal attack in April 2017 killing 25 police personnel in Sukma

By Our Representative
The Government of India’s powerful Central Reserve Police force (CRPF) – whose roles include crowd control, riot control, counter-insurgency operations, and dealing with left-wing extremism – has denied that the Naxal attack on April 24, 2017 in Chhattisgarh was a human rights violation.
In the dastardly attack on a team of 90 CRPF personnel who were on duty, sanitising a stretch of the public road being constructed in the Burkapal-Chintagufa area of Sukma district, at least 25 CRPF personnel died in ambush, while scores of others were injured.
Based on media reports on preliminary findings of an internal inquiry conducted by CRPF to determine what went wrong that cost so many human lives, well-known right to information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak sought to know from the CRPF whether it considers “unfortunate deaths of serving CRPF personnel” in the incident as a “prima facie” case of “violation of the human rights of the CRPF personnel”.
Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi, also sought a photocopy of the report of the inquiry conducted by CRPF into the circumstances surrounding the attack.”
An official CRPF reply has denied that the murderous attack amounted to human rights violation, stating, “There appears to be no violations of human rights”.
It added, the inquiry report into the incident contained “various security and tactics related issues” and therefore “cannot be shared under RTI Act because it might adversely affect CRPF's strategic response.”
Explains Nayak in an email alert to Counterview, says, “The Constitution of India guarantees several fundamental rights to all citizens. However, when a citizen enters any of the notified security forces, some of their fundamental rights are curtailed, so long as they are in service.”
“Article 33 of the Constitution empowers Parliament to restrict or abrogate any of these fundamental rights in the case of citizens joining the armed forces (army, navy, air force etc.) and forces involved in the maintenance of public order (such as the police)”, he adds.
According to Nayak, the CRPF Act, 1949, including the Schedule of The Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act, 1966, validate restrictions on CRPF personnel.
However, insists Nayak, “They continue to have the fundamental right to life while in service. Clearly, the murderous attack in April by left-wing extremist groups amounts to violation of their human rights by non-state actors. By denying this reality, the CRPF may be doing injustice to its own personnel.”
Ironically, says Nayak, the CRPF reply comes in the face of attack occurs, at a time when “self-appointed conscience-keepers of the ‘nation’ and advocates of a belligerent brand of ‘nationalism’ operating through TV news channels (official spokespersons of ruling political parties and news-anchors alike) accuse human rights advocates of not raising their voice against the violation the human rights of security personnel.”
Suggesting the RTI reply make these “pontificators of nationalism” to question the government's attitude towards such incidents, Nayak wonders, “Why does the Government and in this case, the CRPF, fight shy of treating these attacks as ‘human rights violations’ of their personnel?”

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