“The all-round well-being of mankind (Vasudeva Kutumbakam) has always been the basic tenet of Indian culture from times immemorial. Our scriptures bear eloquent testimony to this truth. Recognition of Human Rights is an extension of this philosophy. However, at times, the issue of HR is used as a peg to malign the State in general and the Armed Forces in particular. “
_ A B Vajpayee, Bharat Ratna
During the last couple of years, India changed its stance of passive defence to offensive defence along the LoC, as well as LAC. While China was checkmated at Galwan, Spanggur Gap and Pangong Tso along with strategic steps like QUAD, signing of Treaties/ MoU with USA, Russia, Japan, Australia, Israel and others; Pak has been shown the door with Special Forces and Air Strikes inside PoK territory after the Uri and Pulwama incidents respectively. Every ceasefire violation has been retaliated with force, causing more damage to the violator. This was followed by abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of J&K into two Union Territories and changing the administrative structures and fiscal streamlining. The Hurriyat and the self-centred leaders were freed from detention but were deprived of the central grants and ISI fund channels. Kashmir is getting slowly off from the well-established terror links. Pakistan’s loss of face and operations in Kashmir reflected the loss of credibility.
To avenge this failure, Pakistan cried hoax in International forums alleging Human Rights (HR) violations by Indian Army. Pak’s crocodile tears were exposed through its mindless HR violations and torture of innocent citizens of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), Baltistan, Gilgit and most importantly, Baluchistan. The International community snubbed Pakistan and appreciated India’s stand. Now with the impending change of guard at the White House, Pakistan is again raising its ugly voice of false allegations against India, with probable hope of drawing the attention of Mr Joe Biden, the President-elect.
China, after Galwan, realized the futility of fighting the experienced Indian Army in mountains and has started supporting the Pak sponsored terrorism and false HR allegations actively, ignoring the numerous Human Right violations in its courtyard and also on the fear of a backlash for China originated COVID 19 virus.
What are Human Rights?
The idea of Human Rights (HR) is as old as human civilization. HR have been described as those minimal rights that every individual must have by virtue of his being a member of the human family’ irrespective of any other consideration. They are based on mankind’s demand for a life in which the inherent dignity of a human being will receive respect and protection.
However, the idea of Human Rights in the western theory of natural rights was conceptualized by the British scholar, John Locke after appalling crimes by Nazis brought about international awakening that crystallized into the Universal Declaration on Human Rights by United Nations on 10 Dec 1948, which is now observed as the Human Rights Day. It consists of a Preamble and 30 Articles, covering rights of Prisoners of War, and then Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of citizens which are the first- and second-generation HR.
The third generation of HR is called development rights. These include the right to information, right to clean environment, right to sustainable development and above all right to good governance including the rights of the marginalized and deprived sections of society like women, children, tribal etc.
Characteristics of HR
Follows the tradition of natural law, natural rights.
India Upholds HR in the Face of Terrorism
In India, the all-round wellbeing of mankind (Vasudeva Kutumbakam) has always been the basic tenet of 6000 years old Indian culture. Recognition of HR is an extension of this philosophy. India pays great emphasis on HR since time immemorial as the social structure recognises an entire village as one large family, where elders and women are respected and children are taken care of irrespective of their economic status. Recently the government took historic steps to remove certain social and political inequalities to give equal power and status to its citizens. In 2019, it brought a law against the evil practice of Triple Talaq, thereby restoring equal rights to Muslim women. It also demonstrated to the world in general and perpetrators in particular that atrocities on its soil will not be taken lightly. Terrorism, especially Pak sponsored terrorism had spread its ugly network in Kashmir, denying the basic HR to the people who were denied liberty, education, development and equal right as an Indian. This was tackled as under: –
Reduction in Religious Fundamentalism due to the spread of modern education, upgrading of Madrasas. The No of incidents have come down drastically and terrorism seems to be on its last leg in Kashmir.
“In the history of mankind, more people have died in the name of religion than for any other single cause.”
– Lt Gen Arjun Ray, Kashmir Diary: Psychology of Militants
HR and Indian Army
“To be effective a liberal state must not foster violence, it must conquer it”
Indian Army has a sterling record of valour, sacrifice and devotion to duty. It has been steadfast in nation-building and preserving the integrity of the nation. Humane touch towards fellow beings is ingrained in its psyche.
There is a paradox in all modern democracies. On one hand, we have elections, universal adult franchise, people’s freedom, constitutional rights, free press, freedom of thought and expression; on the other hand, terrorists snatch the very basic rights of innocent people, right to live and to enjoy their property. Terrorism, per se, constitutes the greatest challenge to human rights. It negates life and the norms of human behaviour. Every society cherishing a democratic way of life is bound to fight terrorism and subject to the charge of “excesses” and “violation of human rights” and are thus “damned if they do, and doomed if they do not”. The increased security at airports, railway stations, public places and other strategically important locations and intensive searches cause inconveniences to the public but need to be taken in stride.
In J&K, Pakistan sponsors both “siege of terror” and the “reign of terror” aided by vicious disinformation campaign of baseless allegations of breach of human rights to discredit India. With the abrogation of Article 370, the masterminds of terrorism and intimidation have been dealt a death blow. The axing of their financial source has reduced the terrorist infiltration as well as acts. Indian Army has been the main instrument of the government to achieve this and stalling Pak goals.
The Muftis, Abdullahs and Irom Sharmilas (Manipur) must understand the ground situation and Armed Forces must carry on their duty with a velvet glove and smiling face, resorting to applications of the special powers only when inevitable. Terrorism is the single largest factor for HR violations and in our context, it is masterminded and supported from across the border. In J&K, a Pak trained terrorist’s life is limited to few days, if he crosses the LC fence and reaches the valley, his trail of barbarism, exploitation/torture of our Kashmiri brethren are counted in days before his end.
The army is an instrument of the government and becomes involved in ensuring the enforcement of the ‘reasonable restrictions. Presently it fights terrorism while guarding against any HR violations. Considering the limitation where there is no clear identification of the enemy, Indian Army exemplifies as under: –
Recommendations. In order to evolve as a liberal and developed society, any country needs to put in place mechanisms which will ensure Human Rights are always protected and equal opportunities are provided to all its citizens. Some steps in this direction could be:
Indian Army truly symbolises national integration, secularism, peace and confidence, ever ready for supreme sacrifice to serve the people. National interests come first always and every time and Human Rights track record of any nation must also be at the core of its national interests. Review of Armed Forces Special Power Act and such like demands must be examined from this point of view. Hasty decisions to appease a few will have long term effects which will harm both national interests and human rights of citizens.