.: Human Rights

Date: 9 Dec 2011

SHRC for police restraint in quelling protests

‘Refrain from using pepper gas; respect sentiments of protesters’

Abid Bashir

Srinagar, Dec 08: Asking police to refrain from using pepper gas to quell protests, State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Thursday said sentiments of protestors should be borne in mind and that Prime Minister’s pledge about zero tolerance to rights abuses be followed in letter and spirit.

The SHRC judgment came in response to an application filed by human rights activist, Ahsan Untoo seeking complete ban on the use of pepper gas during protests citing health hazards.
Impressing on the authorities to refrain from using excessive pepper gas on human beings, SHRC has also called for exploring other methods available with the law and order agencies to maintain peace.
“For restoration of peace, maximum restraint in use of force is needed. Sentiments of boys be borne in mind while dealing with the protests,” the judgement reads.
SHRC has also referred to the statements of Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wherein they had “in unequivocal words” expressed zero tolerance for human rights violations.
“This needs to be carried forward in letter and spirit.”
The SHRC has also argued against indiscriminate use of force while containing protests.
“It is not a new thing that misguided young boys are motivated to create law and order problem every Friday after prayers. We have been observing it for the last five decades now. A group of dozen youth involved in stone pelting could be dealt in a manner that would not endanger health of an infant and pregnant woman.
“For a sin of few youngsters, thousands of peace loving people should not be punished and their rights enshrined in the Constitution should not be violated in any circumstance.”
About the use of pepper gas against the protesters, SHRC has cited the concern expressed by senior doctors that it can cause weakness in eye sight, particularly among infants and minors, dysentery, severe chest infection that in turn can lead to tuberculosis and asthma.
The case was heard by member SHRC, Rafiq Fida. The Commission is presently headless as government has failed to appoint its chairman after the retirement of Justice (retd) Syed Bashiruddin.
The Commission also took a serious note of what it termed as physical torture to minors in police station Maharaj Gunj.
“It may be reiterated that chief minister is very sincere in his statement that no minor be booked under Public Safety Act. The sincerity is substantiated by the fact that minors involved in stone pelting were released on Eid,” the judgment reads.
It further states that the statement of chief minister is the policy of government executing agencies while dealing with the law and order situation.
“The police machinery is required to translate social and political policy into law and confer legal rights to the beneficiaries,” the judgment reads.
“Let untried efforts of the government to restore complete peace see face of success.”
The Commission has sent notices to Home Secretary, DGP, IGP Kashmir, SSP Srinagar, SP north zone, SDP north and SHO police station Marharaj Gunj to submit their response about boys arrested, their age and status of their confinement, within a week.
In his complaint, Untoo had stated that 51 boys were arrested of which 21 were minors.

[Rising Kashmir]

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