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Upholding Human Rights in Fight Against Terrorism

Col (Dr) PC Patnaik
Fri, 11 Dec 2020
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

“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                   

 Background

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.

  • Universal and Inalienable,
  • Equal and non-discriminatory.
  • Interdependent, indivisible.
  • Both Rights and Obligations.
  • Dignity for all.
  • Terror of any type is the worst enemy of HR.

 

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: –

  • Blow to Terrorism. Terrorism being the number one enemy of HR needs to be eliminated. India acted swiftly after terror strike at Uri, destroying a set of terrorist camps inside PoK by daredevil Special Forces operations. Then on 26 Feb 2019, the 12th day of Pulwama suicide attack, India carried out Air Strikes at Balakot in PoK, causing large scale casualties.
  • Diplomatic isolation of Pak was complete despite blind support from China and a few countries like Turkey. Even OPEC Nations boycotted Pakistan.
  • 05 Aug 2019: Abrogation of Art 370 after taking due precautionary measures to prevent its exploitation by Pakistan has removed a long-standing inequality and has offered equal opportunities to the citizens of J&K and opened the flood gates for central welfare schemes as also Industries and trade, thus restoring one of the major HR.
  • 09 Aug 2019. Re-organisation of J & K, dividing the State into two Union Territories: Ladakh and J&K, thus bringing in central rule with a promise to revert J&K to Statehood later has cleared the decks for development and has taken care of an important aspect of HR.
  • Dec 2019: Restoration of Normalcy with only a few restrictions remaining and inviting the International community to Kashmir.
  • Feb – Jun 2020. Most of the leaders of J&K were released and complete normalcy was restored. District Development Council elections are being conducted peacefully as also the byelections for Panchayats to ensure that the citizens exercise their constitutional franchise without fear.

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”

– Anonymous

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.

Modus Operandi

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: –

  • “Zero Tolerance of Human Rights Violations” tops the COAS “Ten Commandments”
  • Very rare to frisk an innocent or misbehave with women.
  • Established the “Army Human Rights Cell” in 1993, ie, one year before the establishment of NHRC. This is unique in the world. It has also been ruthless in probing/dealing with the alleged cases of HR violations.  Both human life and HR are precious.  They have to be saved at any cost.
  • The Indian soldier, hailing largely from rural India, is ingrained with respect/care for the elders, women and children.
  • He has set an icon of steadfast endeavour in nation-building and of strict adherence in upholding human dignity and human rights.
  • Indian Army remains the most popular agency in UN peacekeeping operations across the world.
  •  Basic instinct and reaction of a soldier are to protect the human rights and uphold human dignity ingrained through strict military discipline, compassion and camaraderie.
  • Treat everyone alike irrespective of caste, religion and communities while upholding the fundamental rights as enshrined in our constitution.
  • Respect for human rights and endeavours to protect them while dealing with adverse situations is the hallmark of our security forces.
  • Speak the local language, respect local customs. Be known for help and friendliness.
  • Organise and encourage participation in games and sports, Skill development, Sadbhavana/ Welfare Schemes
  • Indian Army is loved and respected amongst the common man and seen as a harbinger of safety, confidence, peace and development.
  • The Indian Army maintains an excellent track record of preserving and upholding human rights while operating in counter-terrorist operations, probably the best in the world as reflected in the latest statistics with effect from 1994.

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:

  • All India cadre in the magisterial hierarchy.
  • Permit ‘in camera’ trial of terrorists – avoid witnesses subjected to damage/reprisal.
  • Upgrading archaic laws facilitating detention and interrogation.
  • Restrictions exist in any modern Nation facing terrorism and reasonable restrictions are in the public interest. Public Awareness of the same should be given importance.
  • Media needs to play a positive role. Unbiased National media needs to take a lead role in reporting of facts rather than fabricated stories of the sponsored and terrorists controlled media.

Conclusion

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.

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.Selected Bibliography

  • Kumar, RV. “Human Rights and The Indian Armed Forces”, New Delhi, Sterling Publishers, 1998.
  • Subramanian, S. “Human Rights: International Challenges, New Delhi, Manas Publications, 1997.
  • Khanna, DP. “Reforming Human Rights” New Delhi, Manas Publications, 2001.
  • Patnaik P CV, Dr: Human Rights and Increasing Powers with Security Forces.
  • Rao, D. Bhaskara, World Conference on HR, New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House, 2003.
  • Internet – Kashmir Reorganisation.
  • Wikipedia: India” s Defence Treaties in 2020.
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POST COMMENTS (6)

Brig HPS Pall

Dec 28, 2020
As usual a well considered opinion. I wonder if the NWS can ever be convinced to renounce thes weapons of mass destruction. With rogue states getting closer to achieve nuclear status desire will be bank on tech to counter the threat and improve own hit probability, in effect deterring rogues.

Reji Koduvath

Dec 14, 2020
Avery well researched paper keeping the Kashmir issue as theme. Political activists of various colours cannot be blamed for their utterances against Army and its Human Rights records - It is their job. Dissent is part of a healthy democracy and putting them down calling them names and labelling them as 'traitors' has been the common ploy of the government. Army is a governmental instrument, an institution mis-used and mis-managed by Indian Governments over the years for putting down rebellion. Army must be deployed only as a last resort, as seen in all developed and mature democracies. It should never be used to clean the 'dirt' left behind by the political and executive systems. Kashmir is a case of total corruption - both at political and executive level- and exploitation of the masses by not providing them with basic education, sanitation and health facilities, lack of employment, exploitation by the rich, manipulation of the elections etc. The Nexalite influenced areas of Central India is also progressing similarly. Deploying the Army to put down uprising of masses will always be accompanied by many claims of Human Rights violations as it is convenient for both the media and the politicians. The way out for India is Educate; Employ and Empower the masses. If not done, Central India will also soon slip into similar chaos.

Col(Dr) Patnaik

Dec 12, 2020
Both HR and Terrorism are vast topics and all the comments/ suggestions are very relevant , worth deliberations. With the limited scope and space for an article. both the topics have been condensed and filtered for the selected topic. Thanks

Avinash Kumar

Dec 11, 2020
Dear Sir, You have nicely summed up the current position. Howerver i suggest if a border view of HR would have highlighted more aggressively and the impact of better HR policies which IA follows to Deal with J&K and its impact on terrorism.

Mohan Salaria

Dec 11, 2020
Very well conceived, researched and nicely presented article. All points have been very well covered but the Government of India has been given more than its due. Situation in J&K hasn’t changed much and terrorists can kill at will. BJP leaders are the targeted ones for obvious reasons.. Response to China can be commended but punishment meted out to Pakistan and it’s military is grossly inadequate. Surgical strikes had little impact as they were for demonstration and never repeated. Political party in power reaped rich dividends in the election. There is no deterrence as ceasefire violations continue and they are digging tunnels to push in terrorist and weapons. Where are our intelligence agencies and drones? Govt is slow in action and mostly reactive. HR is a complex issue and no country is aboveboard.

A. K. Mishra

Dec 11, 2020
At the ab initio JAYHIND Indian Army... The one and only one immideate solution in crisis be it of any Nature... War.. Violence.. Fire Flood & what not. Every Individual is deadly dedicated for the Country Bharat Mata. At exigencies Conscince wants action but restricted due to so called Order in gruell to politics. Review of Armed Force Power Act is neccessary to stregnthen Army for instant and Arbitary decession in front of National & life hazards of many.

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