The Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), a federation of twenty Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights Groups from across India, has denounced Indian government and its Law officer for being parsimonious in their espousal of wisdom.
The Mumbai-based CDRO in a statement said, “Ignorance of law is not counted as an excuse or exonerates a citizen from being prosecuted for commission of a crime, but alarm bells must be sounded when the highest legal officer of Government of India, who is meant to uphold law, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi expresses his ignorance of law, if not deliberately ignores law and defends Army’s use of human shield in Kashmir as ‘peculiar situation requires peculiar measures’.”
His statement is not only offensive but shows reckless disregard for lawless acts directed against civilians and then justifies it by using spurious arguments which amount to utter contempt for the Constitution. To argue, as the AG did, that using human shield was ‘a smart thing’ to do or even the practical thing to do, for which the Army should be praised, is actually to gloss over a cowardly and criminal act.
Using non-combatants as human shield amounts to torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of citizens goes against the very spirit of Article 21, the statement added. Under Geneva Convention 1949’s Rule of War, the use of civilians as human shield is prohibited and considered a war crime. Article 13(2) of the Additional Protocol II (1977), Geneva Convention lays down that “The civilian population as such as well as individual civilians shall not be the object or attack. Acts or threats of violence the prime purpose of which is to spread terror among civilian population are prohibited”.
It is also to be noted that the actions of the Indian Armed Forces are in direct contravention to the International Human Rights Law, it further said.
“The fact that Government of India is in willful violation of international humanitarian laws, however, comes as no surprise. Because, neither Rule of Law nor Rule of War governs the conduct of the armed forces in the areas declared as ‘Disturbed’.”
CDRO has appealed to conscientious Indians to denounce the government and its Law Officer for condoning heinous crimes and to pressure them to give up the policy of military suppression and initiate serious and purposeful political dialogue with the political leadership of the Freedom Movement, the statement added.—KMS