Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] Close encounters: On faking anti-Naxal fight

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Human Rights violations by security forces

Context

The Justice V.K. Agarwal judicial inquiry commission said that no evidence existed to support the claim that 17 people who died in the “encounter” in 2012, in three villages in Bijapur and Sukma districts were “Naxalites”. The security forces in Chhattisgarh have to live down this assertion.

Story

    • In the official narration, two teams led by a DIG marched into the forests to outflank subversives in a meeting. It was met by gunfire. 
    • 17 Naxalites lay dead, and six uniformed personnel hurt. 
    • The commission found no evidence of a gunfight.
    • It held that firing had been one-sided beginning to end.

What it means

    • The findings catalog that truth can be subverted and buried by the very officers who are supposed to enforce the law. 
    • The commission puts it down to a disproportionate reaction from the anti-Naxal formation.

Botched up story

    • The findings make it clear that the entire operation was botched from the start by poor intelligence, inadequate training, lack of communication, and hasty reaction.
    • Postmortem reports showed injuries on 10 of those killed were on their backs.
    • This is not consistent with claims that firing had been in self-defense.
    • The nature and location of the injuries suggest that they were fired upon while fleeing. 
    • There were bullet shots on some of the heads from close quarters. 
    • There were injuries on the upper torsos caused by the butt of guns or rifles which show signs of physical assault. 
    • The cataloging and managing of the evidence of armaments such as guns and detonators suffered from imprecise documentation. 
    • There are signs of manipulation in the timing of injury and post-mortem reports in at least one case. 
    • The commission concluded that injuries sustained by the uniformed personnel were more likely caused through friendly fire. 

Recommendations

    • Training is to be imparted “to improve the mental fabric of security forces”.
    • It aims “to make them more balanced so that they act with equanimity and do not succumb to panic reaction even in a critical situation”. 
    • Ways must be found to initiate action against the officers involved in this unfortunate operation.
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