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License to kill
By S Ubaidur Rahman

Home Minister LK Advani’s recent announcement to grant universal amnesty to police officials and army personnel who have been facing trials in human rights violation cases has come in for sharp criticism from all corners. People have not only criticized the proposal as illogical and anti-secular but have also called the proposal as fascist.

Home Minister had announced recently in Jalundhar that the centre was considering a form of general amnesty for soldiers and other security forces personnel accused of human rights violations while fighting terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast areas of the country. Human rights activists, political parties and even common people have called the move illogical and have said that the implications of the announcement will be far reaching and detrimental for the national integrity. Human rights activists are blaming the home minister of making an outrageous and illogical statement without doing any home work. They have claimed that the idea is politically dishonest, administratively untenable and intellectually indefensible.

The move seems to be outrageous. India is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. India signed these accords in 1979 thirteen years after it being adopted by the United Nations. All the human rights listed in these conventions have been guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the government of India, therefore is bound under the international law and the law of the land to protect human rights guaranteed to the people.

Justice R Sachar, former justice of the Delhi High Court told this correspondent that the proposal shows shades of Hitler in Advani’s proposal as it will allow security forces behave like Hitler’s army. He said that India is governed by a Constitution and Advani is the home minister of this country and not the home minister of a kingdom that existed in the middle ages.

Ms. Maja Daruwala, director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative says, ‘Is Mr. Advani asking for rape and torture to be allowed in the line of duty? She says that instead of making such announcements why the home minister doesn’t stress over more accountability and efficiency and better service conditions along with a more wholesome police culture-not a subculture of violence and abusive attitudes towards public. Ms Daruwala adds that ‘his work is to uphold the majesty of the law in the whole country and the rights of every citizen under the Constitution. To suggest that it is all right under some circumstances to violate the law is amazing.’ Ms Daruwala said that it seems the home minister has not been able to give enough thought on the proposal.

GM Bhat, a Hurriyat Conference leader, told this correspondent that Mr. Advani was trying to give a sort of license to security personnel to kill. He said that the security personnel were doing everything to destroy the Jammu & Kashmir and people have already suffered enormously at the hands of the security forces. He said the move if implemented will provide a blanket cover to the security personnel and they will be free to do whatever they want with impunity. Bhat said that the security personnel have not spared anything and never any security personnel has been punished for atrocities inflicted upon the common people in the state. He said that a prominent lawyer of the Valley Jalil Andrabi was killed by the security personnel and the joint interrogation team formed to look into the matter also came to the same conclusion and indicted an Army Major, Avatar Singh. But the guilty has not been punished for what he did to Andrabi. He is still roaming freely.’

Molvi Abbas Ansari, a prominent Kashmiri leader and a member of Hurriyat Conference’s Executive Council was also of the same opinion. He told this correspondent that proposal is aimed to give total freedom to the security personnel to do whatever they want with no fear of punishment. But he says that instead of supressing the independence struggle in the Valley it will give it a boost as even those people who are not in favour of our demands will be forced to rethink their stand. He says that it will strengthen the struggle in Kashmir and help the cause of the separatist movement in the Valley and elsewhere.

There are people who think that if the proposal of amnesty gets its way through legislation it will endanger the security of the country. People fear that the proposal will not only create havoc in Northeast areas and J&K but also make the whole country unsafe for common people. Police and some paramilitary forces like the PAC are dreaded by common people for their behavior during riots. The partiality of these paramilitary forces is an established fact and it is very rare when they have ever been punished. Even personnel who have been indicted by the commissions set up to look into the matter are still either serving in the forces or enjoying their post retirement days.

Maulana Muhammad Jafar, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, says ‘that the proposal is absurd and in total violation of the Indian Constitution. He says that it will be a license in the hands of the security personnel to do as they please and there will not be any fear of accountability or punishment.’ He adds that ‘it will prove detrimental for the secular and democratic face of the country’.

Even common people are of the view that it will give tremendous power to the Army and the paramilitary forces and amnesty will take away accountability and the human rights violations will increase. It is a common perception that Mr. Advani in the name of the dreaded ISI is seeking to set in place a powerful security apparatus that draws its directions from the home ministry but which can beat and kill in the name of counter insurgency operations. Though it is unlikely that the move will ever see the light of the day, it amply shows how Advani & company think.

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