Protect army personals from stone-pelters: Army kids to NHRC

At a time when FIR against Armymen and withdrawal of cases against stone-pelters is a subject of hot debate in J&K, children of two Army officers took an unprecedented step to move the National Human Rights Commission, asking it to protect army personnel’s human rights being violated daily by stone-pelters.

Preeti, Kajal and Prabhav, children of two Lt Colonels and a retired Naib Subedar, presented NHRC chief Justice H L Dattu with a complaint, which complimented the apex human rights body and Amnesty International for zealously protecting the human rights of locals in disturbed areas of J&K but complained that they are turning a blind eye towards the plight of Army personnel who face threat to life daily from stone-pelters. They said a sub-optimal war was being waged in J&K since independence and the state as well as the Centre have decided to enforce AFSPA to require Army to assist the ‘failed state machinery’.

“The Army has been deployed in J&K since the state machinery was incapable of handling the law and order situation. But the irony is that the very administration which the Army seeks to assist and support has failed to safeguard the human rights of the armed forces personnel,” their petition said.

“Do personnel of armed forces, facing grave and serious violations of human rights, not deserve the attention and empathy of the custodians of human rights? As young Indians and citizens of this great country, especially as children of Army personnel, we are concerned about the state of affairs of the troops serving in disturbed areas,” the petition said and sought urgent intervention of NHRC to hold inquiry into stone-pelting incidents and protect human rights violations of armed forces personnel.

Referring to the Shopian incident of Army personnel firing in self-defence and registration of FIR against them, they asked why no FIR has been registered against stone-pelters and only against soldiers who were acting in self defence. The petitioning children told NHRC that Shopian was not an isolated incident and recounted five such FIRs lodged against armed forces personnel for taking action to secure the area from militants and stone-pelting crowd. They said neither the state government nor the Centre did anything to protect them.

“On one hand, the Army is expected to curb unlawful and disruptive activities by trouble-makers but while doing so they are expected to face attacks on them without having the human rights to defend their lives. They are expected to watch their troops suffer injuries, deaths and also witness their vehicles burnt, rifles snatched etc. All these actions are violations of human rights of the personnel,” the petition said.

They said other countries have prescribed stringent punishment for those throwing stones at armed forces personnel. In the US, they said, a person or group of persons throwing stones at armed forces personnel can be jailed for life. In Israel it was up to 20 years, New Zealand it is 14 years, Australia 5 years and UK 3-5 years.