Army Derides Torture Policy, Defends AFSPA20 December 2010
Akhnoor: Advocating the applicability of Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in a conflict region like Kashmir, GoC 16 Corps Lt Gen Jai Prakash Nehra Monday said Indian army cannot condone torture in any form. “I think, we have enough scientific means to extract information from the arrested militants or anti-national elements. So torture cannot be condoned in any form, ” Lt Gen Nehra said while interacting with media persons here on the sidelines of 2-day seminar titled, “Human Rights and National Security” organized army’s 10 Infantry division. He, however, reserved his comments on the WikiLeaks expose of use of torture by troops in Kashmir. “I have no comments on Wikileaks expose, as I don’t have any specific information on that. They are talking of old cases,” Nehra said. GoC said the track record of Indian army on the human rights front is “very better” in world. “There is no dispute to the fact that we have to respect human rights universally. In some isolated cases of HR Violations by army, we have acted proactively and punished the culprits,” he said. As per Wikileaks expose’, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided US diplomats in 2005 with evidence of the systematic use of torture by troops in Kashmir. As per the reports, published in UK based Guardian Newspaper, the ICRC told the US diplomats of 177 visits it had made to detention centres in Kashmir that revealed 'stable trend lines' of prisoner abuses. In a confidential briefing, ICRC acquainted the diplomats about torture techniques included electric shock treatment, sexual and water torment and nearly 300 cases of 'roller' abuse in which a round metal object is placed on the thighs of a sitting detainee and then sat on by guards to crush the muscles, the reports according to the cables released by the WikiLeaks website said. It said ICRC had been 'forced to conclude that the (Indian government) condones torture'. Earlier, speaking in the seminar, the GoC advocated the applicability of AFSPA in a conflict region like Kashmir. “The special laws give protection to armed forces in conflict areas”. He said, “We have to see whether armed forces have used AFSPA or whether it has helped them in operations. But when a soldier is to be sent to a conflict area, he has to be protected with some special laws. I hope, constitution of the country takes due consideration of it”. The seminar was also addressed by noted journalist and activist Balraj Puri and Vice-Chancellor Jammu University Prof Varun Sahini besides top army officers. Prof Sahini presented the academic overview of the theme of the debate while Balraj Puri was all praise for army. “Best way to achieve national interest is to respect human rights. The recent record of army on Human Rights front is far better as compared to what was 20 years ago,” he said.