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NHRC’s topic for debate contest for CAPFs raises questions

Need for proportionate use of force, but no place for fake encounters: NHRC chief

November 09, 2021 09:15 pm | Updated 09:15 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The topic for the annual debate competition for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), organised by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday, “are human rights a stumbling block in fighting evils like terrorism and Naxalism” succeeded in setting off a dialogue, with many activists and politicians questioning the choice of topic itself.

The competition which, according to an official, has been going for the past 25 years, is co-hosted with one CAPF every year, but the topic of discussion is finalised by the NHRC. This year, the debate was co-hosted by the NHRC and the Assam Rifles, whose team won the “best team rolling trophy” after winning the final round, an NHRC statement said.

Twitter users’ response

Several Twitter users responded to the NHRC’s tweets about the competition with questions of their own. Activist and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan said the NHRC would surely know that the Justice Upendra enquiry commission found Assam Rifles personnel gang-raped and killed Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri woman, in 2004. “…For Assam Rifles to host a Human Rights event is a cruel joke!”, she stated.

Responding to Ms. Krishnan’s tweet, senior advocate Indira Jaising said: “What do you expect from a man who organises a debate “are human rights a stumbling block on fighting evils like terrorism and Naxalism”.

Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Kumar Jha remarked “what a shame”, citing the topic.

Congress leader Ajoy Kumar said: “Jai ho NHRC. You sound like Gestapo (sic).”

Activist Kavita Srivastava said the NHRC was promoting an “anti-human rights agenda” and that it was “time we closed the NHRC”.

The international director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Sanjoy Hazarika, told The Hindu : “I really wish the topic had been framed in terms of upholding human rights in times of conflict and confrontation.”

During the event, NHRC chairperson retired judge A.K. Mishra said the armed forces had protected the nation while facing stone-pelting and other attacks, but they “cannot adopt the same methods as these terrorists” in self-defence, the NHRC statement said.

Referring to the topic, he observed that the arguments given by the security personnel for and against the motion in the debate were of very high standard and indicated their sensibility and understanding of the respect human rights required to be given during their operations. A balance was required to be observed to ensure proportionate use of force, if the situation demanded so, but there was no room for fake encounters and instant justice, the statement noted.

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