Human rights in their place

Human rights in their place

Human rights violations by security forces are a blot on the functioning of any democracy. This is more so in India’s case where Western naysayers have waited and watched for every opportunity to run us down.

One such case—one that has remained constant whether in the background and now in the foreground—pertains to the findings of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) about alleged systematic abuses of human rights of detainees in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in the years 2002-04. ICRC visited various detention centres in that province, talked to detenus and documented allegations of torture and abuse.

It is important that we launch a judicial probe, of the widest ambit, into the matter, and if the allegations are found to be true, punish the guilty. It will only add to the country’s stature.

Our security forces are stressed. Apart from dealing with an insurgency, which in itself involves serious casualties, the army and the paramilitary forces are facing another “war", one from within.

It is an easy sport to take pot shots at helpless soldiers who are just doing their job. This all the more in an environment where conspiracy theories are considered to be gospel truth. When investigation proves these theories to be wrong, the affected parties and human rights groups alike begin to question the probing agency itself. Thus, until their version of the “truth" is accepted, all else is false.

In such an atmosphere, constant allegations of human rights violations, when they are not verified or their context not seen, pose a grave danger: These, and not actual abuses —which should be punished —demoralize our troops.

It is equally important to see the wider situation under which these allegations are made. There are two countries trying their best, to wrest J&K from India—one openly so and the other covertly. In this poisoned atmosphere, anything and everything, human rights included, are weapons to be used in that nefarious quest.

It is this aspect of the situation—the abuse of a human rights discourse—that is worrisome. Again it needs to be emphasized, human right violations are not acceptable, but the systematic use of their alleged violation, is plainly not. That runs against India’s interests. The government of India is yet to formulate a coherent strategy to counter such propaganda.

Human right violations in J&K: real or imaginary? Tell us at