Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat on Friday asserted that the Indian armed forces have utmost respect for human rights and pointed out that the Human Rights Cell in the Army headquarters was being upgraded to the level of a Directorate.
His comments come a day after he said students leading crowds to carry out arson and violence is not leadership, in an apparent reference to the protests across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
“The Indian armed forces not only ensure protection of human rights of our own people but also of adversaries and deal with the prisoners of war as per the Geneva Conventions,” Gen. Rawat said at the National Human Rights Commission on “Preserving Human Rights in times of War and Prisoners of War.”
The human rights cell, created in 1993, was being upgraded as a Directorate, which would be headed by an Additional Director General of the rank of a Major General. It would also have police personnel to address complaints and facilitate related enquiries, he stated.
Gen. Rawat said a new initiate was undertaken in October last by recruiting woman jawans in the Military Police Force. The Army took along police personnel in search operations, keeping in view the concerns of women during such operations. “The Army has now decided to deploy lady jawans of its Military Police Force also.”
To ensure protection of human rights during counter-insurgency operations, a court of inquiry was held after every operation and all related records maintained.
Referring to the Armed Force (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), he said the Act gave almost the same powers to the Army, which were exercised by police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), in connection with search and inquiry operations but over the years, the Army “itself has diluted its application in its own way under the 10 commandments issued by the Chief of the Army Staff that are to be strictly adhered by every soldier, and particularly those deployed in anti- insurgency areas.”