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Responding to a petition filed by three children of army personnel, the Union government has filed a report before the NHRC saying that “withdrawing of cases against stone-pelters by the state government will demoralise the security forces and may encourage the acts of militants to take help of civilians as their shield for terror activities”.
The Centre said, “It is the duty of the state government to take strong action against stone-pelters and provocateurs to safeguard the human rights of members of the armed forces operating in Jammu & Kashmir.”
This stand by the defence ministry before NHRC came in response to a petition filed by children of two serving and a retired army personnel — Preeti, Kajal and Prabhav — who had questioned the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government’s decision in February to withdraw FIRs against nearly 10,000 people who were earlier booked for stone-pelting.
“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 had said and sought urgent intervention of NHRC to hold inquiry into stone-pelting incidents and protect human rights violations against armed forces personnel.
They had also referred to the Shopian incident where an army major was booked for firing at stone-pelters but no FIR was lodged against those who threw stones at the army convoy leading to the firing that caused deaths. After perusing the report filed by the defence ministry, the NHRC on June 2 asked the response of the chief secretary of the state within six weeks.
The children of two Lt Colonels and a retired Naib Subedar had presented NHRC chief Justice HL Dattu with a complaint, which complimented NHRC and Amnesty International for protecting the human rights of locals in disturbed areas of J&K but complained that they were turning a blind eye towards the plight of army personnel who face threat to life daily from stone-pelters.
“The army has been deployed in J&K since the state machinery was incapable of handling the law and order situation. But… the very administration which the army seeks to assist and support has failed to safeguard its human rights,” the petition said.