Shillong, May 31 (IANS) Assam Rifles Director General Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh Friday denied that his troopers were involved in any extra-judicial killing during their counter-insurgency operations in India’s northeastern states.
“It is not true that Assam Rifles is indulging in extra-judicial killings,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Go Green’ campaign at the paramilitary forces’ headquarters here while responding to questions raised on the issue.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns Friday urged the Indian government to institute a commission of inquiry to probe into “extrajudicial killings” in the northeastern states committed by Indian security forces.
In his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Heyns said the commission should also serve a transitional justice role. It should (a) investigate allegations concerning past and recent violations of the right to life.
“The commission should propose relevant measures to tackle them (extra-judicial killings) and work out a plan of action for the future to eradicate practices of extra-judicial executions,” the UN Special Rapporteur said.
Several human rights defenders and civil society groups lodged complaints with the UN Special Rapporteur during his visit to the northeastern states on the “extra-judicial killings committed by Indian security forces”.
Expressing concern over the “extra-judicial killings”, Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary had even directed the Assam Rifles and all other security agencies to “introspect” on these killings.
Urging India to repeal the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Heyns said that the government should repeal — or at least radically amend — AFSPA and the Jammu and Kashmir AFSPA, to ensure that the legislation regarding the use of force by the armed forces provides for the respect of the principles of proportionality and necessity in all instances, as stipulated under international human rights law.
“While waiting for the necessary amendment or repeal of AFSPA, it should be ensured that the status of a “disturbed area” under AFSPA is subject to regular review — for example, every six months — and a justified decision is made on its further extension,” the UN Special Rapporteur suggested.
AFSPA was passed in 1990 to grant special powers and immunity from prosecution to security forces to deal with raging insurgencies in northeastern states in large parts of Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Nagaland and some parts of Meghalaya and in Jammu and Kashmir.
Manipur has witnessed a series of protests against AFSPA. Irom Sharmila Chanu, a human rights activist, has been on indefinite strike for nearly a decade in Manipur, demanding the withdrawal of the AFSPA from the state.
Several human rights groups, including the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), have also been demanding revocation of the AFSPA from the northeastern region.