Counter terrorist operations and human right violations
by Jaibans Singh on 06 Dec 2012 10 Comments

Even as the world is gearing up to celebrate world human rights day on December 10, in India the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) is gearing up to take cognisance of a very bizarre allegation. If news reports are to be believed, the commission has asked its Director General (Investigation) to collect facts and submit a report, within eight weeks, on the alleged killing of two army men in Jammu & Kashmir due to mistaken identity. The commission's direction is in response to a complaint filed by one Shri Akhand, representing an organization called the India Media Centre based at Puri, Odisha.


The facts, as given out by the media, relate to a case of two army teams mistaking one another to be militants and opening fire, which led to the unfortunate death of two soldiers – Sepoy Ghulam Rasool Sheikh of a Rashtriya Rifles unit and Abdul Rauf, a driver of the Territorial Army. Lodging of a complaint of this nature is within the law and the democratic right of citizens; what needs closer scrutiny is the nature of the complaint, the organization from where it has emerged, the treatment given to the same by the media, and finally the action initiated on the complaint by the NHRC.


The circumstances of the complaint give rise to a number of questions – why lodge a complaint of this nature on the unfortunate death of two army soldiers who belong to Jammu & Kashmir when cases of mistaken identity have earlier also been reported during counter insurgency operations in the State and other parts of the country? Such regrettable incidents happen in times of conflict due to what is called the fog of war, so why special importance to this particular instance?


Why has an Odisha-based entity, which describes itself as a voluntary development organisation providing products and services like blood donation camps, health camps, cultural activities and what it terms as “mankind activities”, taken up this particular case when it has many important matters to attend to in its immediate neighbourhood? Why has the media coverage of the report come predominantly from such media sources that are known to have a tilt towards the separatist movement in Jammu & Kashmir or have recently been bad mouthing the army? 


An answer to these questions suggests a motivated reason behind the whole episode. One cannot but feel the whole thing has been orchestrated to show the Indian army in bad light and create controversy where none exists. Amidst this mad rush to derive some perverse benefit from the distressing incident, the martyrdom of the two soldiers is being trivialized.


Looking at the situation in totality, one would not be wrong in suggesting that sustained use of the army in counter terrorist operations is a gross human rights violation in itself. The soldiers who enrolled with the noble sentiment of guarding their country from external threats do not like the idea of staying perpetually in counter terrorist operations. If the NHRC wishes to take cognisance of human right violations against Indian soldiers, it should address the matter in its entirety and not limit its investigations to the death of two soldiers. The question would then arise as to what possible compensation can be given to the Indian soldier for this perpetual state of human rights violation that he is being afflicted with?


It is said there are no perfect solutions in an imperfect world. When terrorism has emerged as an irrefutable global reality, there is no way it can be brushed under the carpet. It needs to be faced head on and no better example of this is available than the efforts of the brave soldiers of the Indian army, the para-military forces and the Police services. The death of a soldier in counter terrorist operations, whether he belongs to the army, the para-military force or the police, is the byproduct of a human rights violation whose root cause is terrorism. This violation, regrettably, has to continue because a vicious and ruthless enemy of the nation has to be neutralised. In India, the soldier performs this noble function regardless of his civilisational rights.


It is against this backdrop that the nation needs to acknowledge the sacrifice by a few for the benefit of the whole. To belittle this sacrifice by making vague assertions and indictments is senseless. Every soldier understands that Sepoy Ghulam Rasool Sheikh and Abdul Rauf would like to be remembered for their bravery in going out there to face the enemy and not having their sacrifice belittled.


The nation will certainly take care of their family and dear ones in accordance with the law; this respect and the desire to maintain proud family traditions is why so many children of martyrs and army heroes join the forces despite tragedies. Without doubting the good intentions of an august body like the NHRC, one does feel that a case like this which involves supreme sacrifice for the nation should have been dismissed outright and not dragged on in a manner which could affect the morale of the forces. Still, it will be interesting to see how the NHRC handles the complaint.


The author is editor,  

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top