Human Rights

Security vis-à-vis human rights

New Delhi: Various security forces debated the issue what comes as the first priority – security or human rights. The disscusion, organised by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force under the aegis of the National Human Rights Commission, saw a lively participation of National Security Guard (NSG), Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police (CRP) in which participants ranged from the ranks of deputy commandants to constables.

While Avinash Kumar, deputy commandant (BSF), declared that human rights were above national security by pointing out that by such violation the country might lose Kashmir and Nagaland. Emphasising that human rights are responsible he argued that is why it is a part of police training. Continuing the argument, another deputy commandant (BSF) S.K. Pathak asked, “If safeguarding national security means killing innocent people, raping women and murdering defenceless children, then what is the difference between a terrorist and a trooper?” Justifying a few civilian casualties in terror-hit areas as collateral damage he argued what could justify custodial deaths and fake encounters in UP and Bihar.

Many NSG commandos also favoured protection of human rights. Sunil Kumar, NSG deputy commandant observed, “I do not think human rights are an obstacle in the way of national security.” But another NSG deputy commandant asked, “What should we do when a bullet is fired from the mob? Respect rights or think about national security.” He cited an incident in which a militant managed to escape behind civilian cover. BSF constable put it more succinctly by pointing out “If we compromise our national security, there will be no one left to enjoy human rights.”

Avinash Kumar, who won the first prize in English category summed up the issue by saying, “Preserve human rights during combat.” However, the second prize winner Murugan, divulged the ground reality, “We are here to find a common ground, but even the people who support the notion of human rights follow our strategy during combat. I am sure they are supporting it just on this dais.”

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2010 on page no. 11

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