Skip to main content

Standard procedure on using civilians as human shields in India's "disturbed" areas is state secret: Modi government

By Our Representative
The Government of India does not want to make public its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) intended for use, by security forces, in areas where militant groups are active and use civilians as 'human shields'. This has come to light in a right to information (RTI) reply by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Revealing this, senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, who filed the RTI application, said, the MHA rejection "invoking security and strategic interests of the state as grounds for refusing disclosure" has come despite the fact that MHA has admits existence of the SOP, and the contents of its draft were revealed in a written reply to a query by P Kumar, AIADMK MP from Trichy, in 2013.
The MP wanted to know, with reference to civilians killed during anti-Naxal operations, whether it was true that many villagers in this country have complained that the Naxals were using them as human shields.
In his reply, the then Union Minister of State for Home Affairs revealed that a draft SOP on 'Maoists using villagers as human shields' was circulated for comments to the armed forces and states affected by left wing militancy.
The minister's reply especially insists that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) must "take utmost care to avoid casualties/injuries and any form of harassment of locals while undertaking anti-Naxal operations even when they are used as human shields by the Maoists".
Based on the former minister's reply, Nayak made an RTI application on instructions issued to all State governments to "adhere to the highest standards of human rights" during anti-Maoist operations, SOP on ‘Maoists using villagers as human shields’ circulated to the governments of Naxal affected states, comments received from states, the latest version of SOP relating to the use of civilians as human shields, as also the version of SOP relating to the use of civilians as human shields by militant groups issued for the North-Eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
The RTI query was especially meant to ascertain which SOP was used by the security forces, who tied a youth to a pilot vehicle being driven around by security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in Budgam, J&K. The incident occurred in the poll-bound Lok Sabha constituency of Srinagar, and its video went viral in April 2017, soon after which the Indian Army ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident.
"The findings of the Court of Inquiry are yet to be made public. A few weeks later, the officer responsible for this incident received a commendation for his performance in counter-insurgency operations, from the Chief of the Indian Army", comments Nayak, who is with the advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
"In July, acting on the plaint of the victim, the J&K State Human Rights Commission directed the government to pay Rs 10 lakhs as compensation, unequivocally describing what several others called a 'life-saving strategy', 'humiliation, physical and psychological torture and wrongful confinement' of the victim which the law does not permit even for a convict", adds Nayak.
While rejecting the RTI plea, the MHA official said, the "information/documents, sought in your RTI application dated April 19, 2017, are secret in nature and disclosure of such documents would prejudicially affect the security and strategic interests of the State. Therefore the desired information/documents cannot be provided as per Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, 2005."
Nayak says, it is clear from the reply that "SOP to guide security forces for handling situations where militant groups use 'human shields' exists" but the MHA "does not want to disclose it", adding, he would now submit an appeal to the Central Information Commission.
Pointing out that there is "very little knowledge about the 'Do's and Donts' issued by the Indian Army for its personnel operating in areas covered by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958,", Nayak says, there exist "10 commandments" issued by the Chief of Army Staff under the 1958 AFSPA, and three of them are:
"1. Remember that the people you are dealing with, are your own countrymen. All your conduct must be dictated by this one significant consideration.
2. Operations must be people friendly, using minimum force and avoiding collateral damage – restraint must be the key.
3. Be compassionate, help the people and win their hearts. Employ all resources under your command to improve their living conditions."

Comments

TRENDING

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.

Sanjiv Bhatt paying price for deposing on Modi role in Gujarat riots: Wife Shweta

Counterview Desk
Following the Jamnagar sessions court ordering life imprisonment to former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for his alleged involvement in three decades old custodial death case, his wife Shweta Bhatt has said that he has been sentenced for a “for a crime he did not commit”, even as criticizing the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association, Gujarat, for not standing up for him.

How Gujarat govt imposed curbs on livestock export for 'fear' of losing BJP vote share

By RK Misra*
Insidious are the ways authorities function, preaching one thing, practicing quite another. Administrative muscle-flexing to suit political goals was on display when the BJP-led Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat banned the export of livestock days ahead of Eid. Even the Narendra Modi-led government expressed its intent to confirm it countrywide, but stopped short of doing so.

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.

Sabarmati 'cleaned up' swimming pool style: Untreated effluents discharged in river

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, senior Gujarat environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have taken strong objection to the recent clean-up drive of the about 11.3 km stretch of Sabarmati riverbed undertaken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), terming it as “swimming pool type clean-up.” The river’s total length is 371 km.

Jharkhand mob lynching: Adivasis protest police 'inaction', FIR against victims

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM), a civil rights network, on Monday sponsored a protest against the police action against the Adivasi victims of the lynching which took on April 10, 2019, in Jurmu village of Dumri block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The incident led the death of Prakash Lakda, aged 50.

Senior advocates targeted because they took up cases against Amit Shah: Lawyers' NGO

Counterview Desk
The Lawyers Collective (LC), an NGO claiming to promote human rights issues, has expressed surprise at the latest move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

Shah Bano case: Arif Mohd Khan gives clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi, says Modi can't take credit for talaq order

By Our Representative
In an usual defence of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Arif Mohammad Khan, the UP politician who quit the Rajiv Cabinet in 1986 over its stance on the Shah Bano case, has said that he does not "believe that Rajiv Gandhi took the decision to overturn the Supreme Court verdict" on the case "on his own."

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

FIR against Lawyers’ Collective a ‘witch-hunt’ of outspoken human rights defenders

Counterview Desk
In a statement, Ravi Kiran Jain* and Dr V Suresh** of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have said the CBI’s FIR against the Lawyers’ Collective and senior advocate Anand Grover is an undisguised attempt to silence not just the top human rights organization but is also meant to “serve as a lesson to all others who dare to challenge the Central Government.”
Calling the FIR “motivated, vengeful and vituperative act”, PUCL said the Lawyers’ Collective, which has for 38 years of its existence has taken up cases related with domestic violence, human rights, labour and womens’ rights, adding, among the important ones are the “Naz case on rights of the LGBTQ community, the Novartis case, the Sabarimala case, the triple talaaq case and the Sohrabuddin case, in which current Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah was involved.”
Demanding immediate withdrawal of the FIR, PUCL said, “The case lodged against the organization smacks of vendetta for its exceptional …