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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

The Human Rights Wallahs

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‘Humare liye koi human rights nahi hai.’ (there are no human rights for us), Said a CRPF jawaan of the 62nd battalion at Chintalnar, Dantewada district. He would also add that everyone in the area is a Maoist and ‘rights’ belong to them, not him.  Within five minutes, the In-charge would appear, and the fifteen-twenty jawaans who snuck up to have a word with the press, quickly scattered like a bunch of frightened school children. The in-charge politely shoos us away. We don’t need to talk to the jawaans, we should merely talk to the DGP, the DIG or the SP.

‘Humare liye koi human rights nahi hai.’ – he was right, in this case, they weren’t even allowed freedom of expression. If a policeman wants to complain that the INSAS rifle is no good in killing a human being, he has every right to. But he did raise a very important question, what is human rights really to the khaki man behind the trigger?

I remember I once sat with a young ASP Rajendra Das in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh in January of last year, discussing the so-called ‘humanrightwallas’ as they’re commonly known to the police.

‘When this humanrightswalla would get on a bus and go to one of those areas, and there’s firing, what would he do?’ he asks, sitting behind his desk, ‘in a gunfight, my only friend is an AK47, there’s nothing else, no friendship, no human rights, nothing.’

After a long time spent in the jungle, I realize that for the many, many policemen like Mr. Rajendra Das, a gunfight is the ultimate reality. It is the ultimate zenith of the human condition, there’s nothing greater than it, nothing beyond it. What is a humanrightswalla going to do in a gunfight? Take notes? Petition the supreme court? No, of course not. In a gunfight, the man with an AK47 is king, the humanrightswalla would have to cower in the corner, hope he doesn’t wet himself and pray to the God of war to deliver him from the throes of death.

Fortunately, we don’t live in a world of perpetual gunfights. We live in a world where we fight to prevent perpetual gunfights, inspired by a man who stood in front of a tank, another who got nailed to a cross, a frail old man who changed the face of history and thousands and thousands more, known and unknown.

For me, one was an SPO who refused to kill, another was a thaanedaar who saved the life a tribal who was locked up in his police station by the Salwa Judum.

‘Nikaal jaoo yaha se, yeh log tere ko khataam kar denge.’ (Get out of here, these people will kill you). He told him, letting him out; an act of kindness for which he shall receive no accolades, no respect from his colleagues, and even the humanrightwallas would be able to do nothing for him.

Tomorrow, the Maoists might grant him his human rights by slitting his throat if he were to ever come into their hands. And of his deeds, none would know. Both of those men, I could never write about, for fear of putting them in serious risk, for fear of condemning them to the life of a pariah.

Human rights, they do exist for the police. They exist when they remember that they’re meant to protect them. Yet isn’t that almost a joke? A member of the paramilitary forces, the SSB, honestly told me in January 2009: ‘Fuck your human rights, and we can fix this whole problem (Maoism).’

A humanrightswalla is more problematic than the man with the gun. The Maoist with a rifle you can shoot. It is those petitioners and those biased fact-finding intellectuals from Delhi who’re the real problems and it becomes important to delegitimize the humanrightwallas and their human rights. And it’s not so difficult.

First we call human rights a western concept that has no bearing in Indian society. Forget that we have a long history of Buddhism. Forget that human rights/fundamental rights/natural rights are the basis of democracy.

Then we call the humanrightwallas exaggerators. However, this is an indictment that is not wholly incredulous, as particular humanrightwallas seem to be a bit loose on the facts. Their greatest shortcoming has been the dilution of truth about atrocities with falsity and exaggeration. For example, there was the infamous ‘burnt in oil’ incident, where a tribal was allegedly ‘hung upside down’ and ‘burnt in hot oil’ by the police. I never knew torturers would ever go through so much trouble. In truth, the man who was ‘burnt in oil’ was a senile old tribal man who had no idea what they were doing to him, (after some cross questioning, I realized he was really electrocuted). ‘I felt I was being burnt in oil’, was probably just a metaphor he used to describe what they were doing to him and the untrained Gondi-Hindi translator, fell for it.

Of course, in the same report, there were numerous facts that were ‘actual facts’.  The same report was the first to mention the Gompad baby whose fingers were cut off. Yet the damage was done. The report lost its teeth. These humanrightwallas are all making things up and trying to de-legitimize the Indian state (if corruption hasn’t done enough already?).

Yet one of the most important reasons to ascertain one’s facts, is this – if you’re going to write a report on how the police had raided a village and killed people, the people who know the truth are the police themselves. If they killed five people and you write ten, they’re going to think you’re whacko.

Then we have our Union Minister P Chidambaram who begins to talk about their ‘double standards’, and wants the humanrightwallas to ‘condemn Maoist violence too’. And what is that going to do? Apart from being highly distasteful to force an emotional response out of the conscience of another human being, are the Maoists really going to listen to the humanrightwalla’s silly condemnations?

When 76 security personnel were killed in the Mukrana forests on the 6th of April, within hours, the everyday troll started calling for the heads of all the human rights group who ‘didn’t protest or say one word’. Within hours? Newspapers hadn’t even gotten their facts right and they expected every human rights organization to condemn the massacre? How? Does PUCL twitter?

And when organizations do condemn violence against the state or the police, either their press releases aren’t printed in the newspapers, or they’re all condemned to have crocodile tears.

The one thing I never understood, is this – do human right organizations condemn the deaths of Maoists killed in ‘real’ encounters with the police? No. They condemn and investigate into the killings of non-belligerents and they condemn the unconstitutional, extrajudicial executions of Maoists and terrorists whose rights are protected by the Rule of Law.

And it’s not all black and white, us or them.

‘There are some animals in this world, and they should be just finished off.’ Said a humanrightswalla to me, as we debated the death sentence. Strangely enough, we were having this debate, quite inappropriately, at the wake of one of the greatest civil rights activists of the country, K Balagopal. His own ideas and his prolific writings have been reiterated, recycled and rehashed again and again in every sensible and intelligent essay or op-ed on Naxalism and state violence in the last few months. If he hadn’t passed away in the month of October last year, the same time the COBRA battalions were running amok in the jungles of Dantewada, one wonders what the humanrightwallas would be doing, besides being delegitimized and forced to condemn the killings of CRPF personnel when it would seem blasphemous for them to be condemning the gunning down of known-Maoists in CRPF ambushes.

Meanwhile, P Chidambaram acts and talks like he’s never read a single piece written by Balagopal when he says that the humanrightwallas don’t condemn the violence of revolutionaries or terrorists. He has literally declared war without doing his homework. Abjure violence? Condemn violence? The idea of just condemning violence is idiotic and it is an obscene oversimplification. I’m not a humanrightswalla, and I don’t condemn it just as I don’t condone it. Yet I wish to understand it and where it comes from.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this writing are strictly & solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of League of India, its Editorial Board or the business and socio-political interests that they might represent.

The article originally appeared at the author's blog here

Javed Iqbal
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Javed Iqbal is a photojournalist currently working as an investigative reporter for The New Indian Express. He has covered the Bastar tribal region (Chhatisgarh) extensively, and has published several photos from the remote areas in the region.


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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

HUGE SUCCESS: Specialist Combat Unit Eliminate 14 Naxals in Gadchiroli

A team of C-60 commandos, a specialised combat unit of the Gadchiroli police, carried out the operation.

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GADCHIROLI (Maharashtra): Fourteen Naxals were killed in an encounter with the police in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district.

Police said a team of C-60 commandos, a specialised combat unit of the Gadchiroli police, carried out the operation.

“Fourteen Naxals were killed in the encounter. Combing operations are still on,” Sharad Shelar, Inspector General of Police, said.

The official said that two district-level commanders of the proscribed outfit, identified as Sainath and Sainyu, were among those killed in the encounter.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Ankush Shinde of Gadchiroli range confirmed the casualties saying,”We have recovered 14 bodies from the spot, which include Sainath and Sinu. This is the first time that two DVC members have been killed in a single operation.”

Sainyu, killed in the operation was a divisional committee member of South Gadchiroli union of CPI (Maoist), and Sainath was commander of Perimili Dalam. The two major divisional committee members in one operation are noted as a major record.

Director General of Police Satish Mathur congratulated the C-60 team which participated in the encounter.

“This is a major operation against Naxals in recent times,” Mathur said.

n 2017, a total number of 19 Naxalites were killed in an encounter region at Gadchiroli. The highest Naxal deaths till now in the above-said region is seven and the number was double in 2013 Korchi tahsil and 2017 in Sironcha tehsil.

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CHANGE ON THE GROUND

President Gives Nod to Ordinance for Death Penalty for Rapists of Children Below 12

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

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NEW DELHI: President ram Nath Kovind promulgated The Criminal Law amendment ordinance, 2018 to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to pave way for a death penalty to those found guilty of raping children up to the age of 12 years.

The President’s nod to the ordinance came after the Union Cabinet’s approval yesterday for tightening the law against people involved in rape, following public outcry over cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unnao.

“Whereas Parliament is not in session and the President is satisfied that the circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action.

Earlier, the Cabinet on Saturday approved the promulgation of an Ordinance to amend Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 to introduce the death penalty for rape of children younger than 12 years.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

Several political leaders cutting across party lines hailed Centre’s move.

“Now, therefore, in an exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of article 123 of the Constitution, the President is pleased to promulgate the following ordinance,” the gazette notification said.

The ordinance stipulates stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape, particularly of girls below 16 and 12 years.

The death sentence has been provided for rapists of girls under 12 years.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of women has been increased from the rigorous imprisonment of seven years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.

According to the ordinance, in case of rape of a girl under 16 years, the minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means jail term till the convicts “natural life”.

The punishment for gangrape of a girl below 16 years will invariably be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.

Stringent punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years has been provided with the minimum jail term being 20 years which may go up to life in prison or death sentence.

Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will invite punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death, it said.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act stand amended with the promulgation of the ordinance after the approval of the President.

The measure also provides for speedy investigation and trial.The time limit for investigation of all cases of rape has been prescribed, which has to be mandatorily completed within two months.

The deadline for the completion of a trial in all rape cases will be two months.

A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed.

There will also be no provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of rape or gang rape of a girl under 16 years.

It has also been prescribed that a court has to give notice of 15 days to a public prosecutor and the representative of the victim before deciding bail applications in case of rape of a girl under 16 years of age.

Enhancing the powers of the judiciary to provide stringent punishment in rape cases, the Union Cabinet had approved a number of measures, such as strengthening the prosecution, besides setting up new fast-track courts in consultation with the states and high courts concerned,  according to an official.

The National Crime Records Bureau will maintain a national database and profile of sexual offenders.

This data will be regularly shared with the states and the Union territories for tracking, monitoring and investigation, including verification of antecedents of sex offenders by the police, the official said.

The present scheme of One Stop Centres for assistance to the victim will also be extended to all districts in the country.

 

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

CRPF Officer Martyred in Gunfight with Maoists

The martyred security person was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

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SUKMA (Chhattisgarh): An officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was martyred in a gunfight with the Maoists in a dense forest in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.

The gunfight took place on Friday night in Kistaram police station area when a team of CRPF’s 212th battalion was out on a search-cum-area domination operation, Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Bastar Range) Sundarraj P said.

The deceased was a native of Madhya Pradesh.

Security forces have launched a combing operation in the area, located around 500 km away from the state capital Raipur.

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