[Assam] Indian Army showing such a caring attitude to the region makes it imperative for India to lift THE objections on the UN Optional protocol, sign it and be a part of civilised democratic ideation.

Bartta Bistar barttabistar at googlemail.com
Tue May 1 03:40:13 PDT 2007

 North-East jawans get lessons in human rights, self-control


 By IE

*Tuesday May 1, 02:32 AM*

Insurgents are "our own people" so treat them with "kindness and
self-control" and use "as little force as possible" - these are some of the
instructions the Army has given to its men in the Northeast.

Faced with recurring allegations of violation of human rights, the Army's 4
Corps has framed a set of "golden rules" for its personnel engaged in
counter-insurgency operations in Assam and other Northeast states. Titled
Sainikon ke liye dhyan dene yogya baten (Issues to be kept in mind by
soldiers), the booklet says it has to be carried by every jawan all the time
and followed "word by word".

The 28-page rulebook opens with the 10-point chapter "Instructions from the
Army chief". It tells jawans that the people they are working with are "our
own people", so "when carrying out operations, behave with kindness, apply
as minimum a force as possible and keep yourself under control".

"The personnel have been working in a peculiar situation in the region,"
said Lt-Gen R K Chhabra, who heads the Tezpur-based 4 Corps. "While they are
trained to tackle enemy forces, what they have been made to do in
counter-insurgency situations is to handle our own people."

There are special instructions on how to conduct oneself in a situation that
involves women: "Please do not act without the presence of women police
personnel," even when dealing with the women among militants.

And when it comes to applying force, the jawans have been particularly told
not to use abusive language or assault people in front of women and
children. "When raiding and searching houses, please do not throw household
items here and there, do not break them or seize any item without a seizure
list," goes one rule.

The Army has been target of ceaseless allegations of abusive conduct,
especially in Manipur, Assam and Nagaland. Among the charges jawans face are
rape, molestation, and theft.

The new rules also cover how the forces interact with the media. One of the
11 separate instructions asks officers to take the media into confidence and
says it is the commanding officer's personal responsibility to give the
right kind of information.

The Northeast region has a huge Army presence and the controversial Armed
Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 has been in force almost across the
region. The Act gives unrestricted powers to the Army to carry out
operations once an area is declared disturbed. Even a non-commissioned
officer has the right to shoot-to-kill based on mere suspicion that it is
necessary to do so in order to "maintain public order".
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