August 2001 News

Amnesty to armed forces must be within law: NHRC

20 August 2001
The Hindu
J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission today made it clear that it would not interfere with the proposed relief being contemplated by the government for security forces blamed for human rights violations as long as such a relief was within the framework of the Constitution . Referring to the statement of the Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, that the Government would consider some relief to security personnel, commission''s sources said it would keep a watch on the steps to be taken in this regard. It was premature to react without any concrete decision by the Government. Meanwhile, the former DGP of Punjab, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, who is also the president of the Institute for Conflict Management, welcomed Mr. Advani''s announcement that the Centre was seriously considering relief for security forces within the ambit of the Constitution. In a statement, he said it had been his consistent position in the context of Punjab that a vast number of human rights cases against police officers and personnel were politically motivated and false and that they were based on concocted evidence by investigative agencies acting under undue and extra- Constitutional pressures. Mr. Gill said that ''an objective assessment of human rights practices in India today would demonstrate that this has been transformed into a populist platform for dishonest self- projection, the manipulation of the law and a licence for criminal and subversive action''. ''Front organisations of terrorist groupings and compromised political parties and leaders have systematically exploited legal processes in the name of human rights to harass and paralyse the security forces and to promote the objectives of terrorists and covert foreign agencies especially the ISI,'' he added. Mr. Gill suggested the setting up a Constitutional commission to examine the functioning of judicial institutions in situations of widespread terror in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and the various affected States of the North-East. Black dot: JKDP PTI reports from Srinagar: In a separate statement, the vice- president of the Jammu and Kashmir People''s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, said, ''if the Government goes ahead with the decision, it will be a black dot on Indian democracy. ''Security forces in Kashmir already have unlimited powers and if they are not made accountable for their sins, they will feel encouraged and indulge in more acts of human rights violations,'' she said. In New Delhi, the hardline Akali leader, Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann, warned that the demand for Khalistan could be revived if Mr. Advani went ahead with his ''dangerous and explosive'' proposal to give amnesty to police personnel facing prosecution for their role in anti-terrorist operations. He said the statement was ''not only legally and constitutionally unsound, but it can provoke the Sikhs to ask for a separate, independent, sovereign State - a buffer State between India and Pakistan.'' The Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Mr. Prakash Singh Badal, declined to comment on Mr. Advani''s statement. Mr. Badal, whose party is a NDA ally, told presspersons in Sangrur, ''What have I to say? We have no role to play in this regard. This is a matter for the Union Government to deal.''


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