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Govt slams HRW's report on human rights violation

New Delhi, Wed, 16 Jul 2008 NI Wire

The Indian government has slammed the released report of US based Human Right Agency “Human Right Watch” by accusing the Centre and Chhattisgarh government of a large-scale human rights violation during the anti-naxal operation in Maoist hit areas. With strong criticism, the report demands withdrawal of all government supports to activities by Salwa Judum vigilantes.

Disparaging the report of HRW, the Home Ministry official states, “India is a thriving democracy and has adequate institutional mechanisms to ensure that human rights of its citizens are protected. It has an independent judiciary, free media and commissions at the national and state levels to promote and protect human rights."

A spokes person from Home Ministry responded that India is firm to protect and promote human rights and in this regard, Ministry has convened a meeting of police chiefs and senior delegates of four most naxal-affected states: Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday to discuss on “How to better tackle the Maoist menace?” Moreover, another subsequent meeting of cabinet secretary level will be held to discuss “How to implement Central Government’s scheme in a time bound manner in the states?” said spokesperson.

These wake-up meeting have been called in the response of the assassination of Ramesh Singh Munda, former Welfare Minister of Jharkhand and more than 50 personnel of the elite Greyhound anti-Naxal force in Orissa.

The 182-page report entitling “Being Neutral Is Our Biggest Crime: Government, Vigilante and Naxalite Abuses in India's Chhattisgarh State” alleges that security forces, naxalites and Salwa Judum, an anti-naxalite citizen’s movement are violating the human rights.

Alleging all gunmen, who have owned the weapons either for protecting themselves or for terrorism activities, the human rights organisation has claimed that all were abusing the civilians particularly the tribals in their tug-of-war.

Zeroing the security forces and members of Salwa Judum, it claimed that security forces and members of Salwa Judum were killing and forcibly displacing thousands of people during operations against Naxals in Chhattisgarh.

“They forcibly relocated thousands of villagers to government-run makeshift Salwa Judum camps near police stations or paramilitary camps along the highways. They also coerced camp residents including children to join Salwa Judum’s activities, beating and imposing penalties on those who refused,” claimed HRW.

At the same time, the report also condemned the naxalites act of carrying out bombings, abduction, beating up and execution of civilians in the doubts of supporting Salwa Judum.

“Tens of thousands of internally displaced persons are stranded in government camps in Chhattisgarh or in the forestland of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. They are facing the problems of proper food, water, sanitation, education to their children, health and livelihood,” reported HRW.

Despite of criticising the reports of HRW, some government official agrees that some of the members of Salwa Judum can violate the rules and regulation in the name of counter attacking the naxalities.

According to HRW, the report was prepared on the statements delivered by 50 eyewitnesses who faced the attacks of security forces in 18 villages in Dantedwada and Bijapur districts before HRW. It has also conducted the on-the-ground research in the two States in late 2007 and early 2008 for four weeks covering 175 victim villagers, Salwa Judum leaders, government officials and police, and former naxalites.

Read More: Maoist | Bijapur

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