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Essay on “Human Rights and the Indian Armed Forces” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Human Rights and the Indian Armed Forces


  1. Both terrorism and anti-terrorism operations infringe upon the human rights of affected civil societies.

  2. Provisions for protection of human rights exist both at the international and national levels.

  3. Several international laws are aimed at restricting the use of violence against those not involved in fighting.

  4. Terrorism cannot be tolerated but at the same time human rights have to be safeguarded.

  5. While the terrorist has no concern for human rights, the armed forces are under tremendous pressure to protect such rights.

  6. Some excess are committed by the armed forces, but studies show most of the claims are exaggerated. If found guilty in court, defense personnel are punished.

  7. Strict rules and procedures of conduct are in place for armed personnel in the context of human right.

  8. Armed forces play a significant civic role in insurgency hit areas.

  1. Human right of the armed forces are often grossly violated. This needs to be corrected.

  2. Conclusion – armed forces also realize that cooperation from the civilian population will come only when human right of  all are respected.

Historically  armed violence against civil societies was the regrettable fallout of wars between nations. Today, the unfortunate reality is that the targeting of civil populations has become the scary strategy of the new breed of terrorism unleashed by fundamentalist of forces. Innocent men, women and children become hapless victims of such violence and are caught in the cross-fire between the terrorists, on the one hand, and the security forces, on the other. While the freewheeling terrorists have no restrictions on descending into the worst methods of  medieval mayhem to achieve their aims, the soldiers of the Indian Army face the daunting task of performing their duty in accordance with a high code of conduct and strict norms of behavior with all odds stacked against them.

          It was the appalling crimes against humanity by Nazi Germany in the extermination of millions of people that horrified the civilized world and aroused the collective conscience of the international community to do something to protect humanity against the violence perpetrated by man against man. This resulted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. The Declaration generally state that all human beings are born free and equal , that their lives , liberty , security and dignity need to be protected. This is the document of the large body of Human right jurisprudence that has since come into being. In India, the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 defines human rights as the rights relating to life liberty, equality and dignity of the individual as guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.

          International humanitarian law deals  with protecting   victims of armed conflicts form violence and other violations of human rights. Standards have been codified in the Geneva Conventions (1949) for the protection of war victims and two additional Protocols(1977). The combined goal of these instruments is to restrict the use of violence against those who are not engaged in armed fighting and to prohibit method of warfare that cause unnecessary suffering. The conventions that cover the armed forces relate to the treatment to be given to sick and wounded military persons in the field, to sick and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea, treatment of prisoners of war and protections of civilians in time of war.

          Since Independence the India armed forces have been engaged in four wars and in prolonged and contiguous engagement in counter insurgency operations against terrorist  and insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states. While combating insurgency the, army is very alive to the fact that it is a battle for the hearts and minds of the insurgents and the harmony between the interests of the individual and the state is essential. The problem arises when the dangers from across the border and form terrorism cross dangers from across the border and form terrorism cross reasonable limits.

          A nation and a society connote tolerate terrorism when it endangers the security of the state and the welfare of its people. The state is bound to take stringent measures. The dilemma is how to execute such measures without disregarding the human rights aspect. It is here that the insurgent holds the trump card. The insurgent and military arenas. The terrorists are aware that the political and military arenas. The terrorists are aware that the politicians are concerned mainly with the vote banks of their constituencies. Anything that distrubs chances of coming back to power disturbs them. The terrorists, therefore, depend upon premeditated outright lies are the weapons they use to degrade the capacity of the armed forces employed against them. It becomes incredibly difficult for the soldiers to be restrained when they see their comrades  being killed, even as human rights organizations are swayed by the propaganda of the terrorists. Regrettably , the press often publishes the version of the terrorists, perhaps because it is more easily available. The terrorists therefore use the politician, the press and the Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have often fired at soldiers from within crowds of women and children, secure in the knowledge that soldiers will hesitate to fire back; or that if they do, then it is the armed forces who will get the flak.

          It would be untruthful to say that there have never been excesses by the armed be the armed forces. There have been a number of  cases where uniformed men have been found involved in serious violations of human rights of the civilians. For instance, sometime back some jawans threw out some civilians form the standing Farakka Express at the Shikohabad station in Uttar Pradesh. The unfortunate civilians who fell on the adjacent rail track were run over by the incoming Sampoorna Kranti Express. And , as a result , several persons were killed. Further, in the guise of searching homes for the supposedly hiding terrorists, rapes and molestations of women by the men in olive are also not unheard of.

However, before, examining the record, one must also consider that when one uses the term ‘ armed forces’ it includes not only the army but also the BSF,CRPF, ITBP ,Assam Rifles and other paramilitary forces operating in the area. The fact that, in the Indian system, the Army is only called out when the police and the paramilitary forces commodores R.V. Kumar and Group Captain B.P. Sharma in their book Human Rights and the Armed Forces have stated that less than one per cent of the complaints made against the army personnel are found to be valid.

          The Armey deals with human rights violations with a very heavy and where army personnel are found guilty, they are awarded severe punishment quite swiftly through court martial. In one case,  death penalty was awarded. Nonetheless, some people say that court martial’s even while punishing the culprit swiftly, often do not do full justice vis-à-vis the gravity of the crime perpetrated by the guilty men in uniform. What makes matters worse is that the defence administration jealously maintains a complete secrecy and often shields the personnel concerned from the hounds of the media and the society for the sake of the so-called dignity and honour of the forces.

          The Army is very conscious of the effect of the infringement of human rights by its personnel on the overall morale, discipline and motivation of the armed forces as a whole, It has, therefore, initiated a series of measures to educate its personnel in human rights awareness and correct procedures to be followed. There is a comprehensive list of do’s and dont’s during, before and after military operation. In addition, human rights awareness is promoted by running various training courses at the level of precommission training. Young officers courses, and training courses at level including senior officers courses and the Defence Services Staff College course at Wellington. More importantly, situational courses are run in counter insurgency areas that take into consideration the on-the-spot factors that could vary from one situation to another. Although this training focuses on situations of counter insurgency, provision is also made for the conduct of armed forces personnel during war.   

          The Indian army personnel assigned for UN peacekeeping operations are given training not only in human rights but also on how to react to various situations they are likely to encounter. In  order to sensitise the entire Army on human rights, the records of personnel are monitored and taken into account while considering promotions and postings to sensitive appointments.

          Organizationally , the Army has instituted human rights cells. The charter of these cells is to monitor, receive complaints, investigate and submit reports for further action and also to be in touch with the National Human Rights Commission and NGOs working in this field with a view to minimizing  human violations.

          The Chief of Army Staff in 1993 issued his Ten Commandments for strict compliance for forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations, which included, among others; no rape, no molestation, no torture, death preferable to military disgrace, no meddling in civil administration, human rights, and fear only of God, to uphold the path of righteousness.

          As a corollary to these Commandments, the concerned corps commanders further issued Ten Directives for strict compliance which include; display compassion and humanity towards the local populace; there are no insurgents here – only misguided countrymen; never molest women –they are our sister and mother; do not harm children –they are our heritage; no reprisals under any circumstance ; treat apprehenders with respect; honour democratic norms and adhere to human rights.

          The role of the armed forces in civic and welfare work in insurgency and disaster-hit areas-both natural and manmade-must not be forgotten. According to an assessment, the termination of the insurgency in Punjab was facilitated by the humanitarian work done by the Army when it was called out to assist the police in counter-insurgency operations. Army personnel attended the sick and wounded villagers, shared their rations with the villagers, and conducted classes in village schools. It is estimated that in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir alone, the Army treated education to thousands  of children, distributed free of cost rations worth millions of rupees and helped in the construction of hundreds of kilometers of roads and tracks. Towards the end of 2004, when the deadly tsunami struck the coastal areas of the South-Eastern India, the defense forces were  the first to rise to the occasion. They did for the victims what the local, state and central governments failed to do. Apart from saving countless precious lives, the men in uniform provided food, medicine and shelter to thousands of victims and helped them in numerous other ways to take up a normal life once again. Similarly, in Jammu and Kashmir when due to heavy snowfall, normal life is disrupted and when tourists are trapped, the Army and the Air Force are known to evacuate the trapped people and ferry them to safe areas. Defence personnel posted in the region even stop  counter-terrorist operations during sucj times to provide relief to the beleaguered civilians. Further, on many occasions, the Army even provides more than half of its war reserves of oil and other resources for meeting the fuel shortage and other needs of  the people in Kashmir. It may also be recalled that in the 1971 Indo-Pak  war India tool 93,000 persons as prisoners. The Indian Army is reputed to have meticulously followed the Geneva Conventions in the treatment of these prisoners. It is on record that  Indian Army troops moved out of their barracks so that the prisoners of war could be housed. The behavior of the Indian Army was exemplary, to say the least. The invisible result of the conduct probably won for the country the goodwill of these POWs and their families-a consequence as impressive as the victory achieved by the use of force.

          Mr K.P.S. Gill, who as Director-General Punjab police contributed substantially to the curbing of insurgency in Punjab, has highlighted a growing aberration which has received little public attention and is stridently denied by the human rights litigation as a weapon against the agencies of the state by terrorists, insurgents and criminals who themselves reject democracy and seek the overthrow of lawful and elected government. An overwhelming proportion of ‘public interest’ human rights litigation is today being initiated by front organization s of virulent underground terrorist movements in  a systematic strategy to harry and paralyze security forces and the police. The eventual judicial outcome of such litigations is irrelevant to the objectives of these groups. The very admission of a petition is  sufficient to launch a media campaign based on fabricated information and charges that are reported without even a semblance of investigation or corroboration as ‘facts’. Hundreds of such cases and complaints have been found to be utterly false. But there are no effective penalties attached to this abuse of the process of the law- through statutes exist for malicious. Persecution, the have never been applied in a single case of this nature. This perversion of judicial process has to be countered to effectively resist the forces of destabilization in the country.       

          It must also be borne in mind that personnel of the armed forces operating in areas of insurgency are also Indian citizens and, as such, are entitled to protection of their human rights. As a matter of fact, they face the grossest violation of several of their fundamental rights. They are constantly exposed to danger and torture of the worst kind. Instances of murder I cold blood, mutilation and torture have occurred in the 1992, 1965 and 1971 and the Kargil wars and in Jammu and Kashmir and in the north-east. However, human rights organizations have never ever protested against such acts. This has an adverse effect on the morale of troops who are kept on a tight leash when operating against insurgents with their own lives in danger, but have no support when their rights are violated. This needs rectification if the human rights issue is to have a balanced perspective.

          The armed forces  understand that they can function more effectively and smoothly if the civilian population is with them in their endeavors. This need of the armed forces makes them more sensitive to civilian needs and human rights. This awareness will help in cubing the temptation to use more than minimum force and encouraging them to exercise restraint. It is desirable that the armed forces continue to emphasize the importance of human rights in the execution of their duties.

          There is no place for the kind of events that have recently taken place in Kashmir and Manipur , for instance;  at the former, several innocent young men were killed as ‘terrorists’; in the latter, a woman was allegedly abducted, raped and killed for ‘being in touch with insurgents’. Equally, the armed forces too need our sympathy for the violation of human rights they constantly face with none to bring public attention to their plight.

          The media can play an effective and important role in this, instead of giving coverage to the human rights violations- both genuine and fake- of only those who pay scant attention to their victims’ rights in the first place, they must also give coverage to the violation of human rights of the armed forces personnel, so that the morale of the uniformed men are kept high.     


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