Rights groups highlight arbitrary killings in India
Civil society groups in South India urged Christof Heyns, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to bring to the notice of the Indian authorities the seriousness of the problem of arbitrary killings in the country.
Mr. Heyns, now on a fact-finding mission in India, interacted with civil society groups from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka at a meeting here on Saturday by organisations such as People's Watch and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring.
During his India visit, which began on March 19 and will extend till March 30, he is holding such meetings in different regions of the country, besides interacting with government officials, to investigate the circumstances and causes of the killings signifying state repression. His mandate is to alert the government to its legal obligations in upholding international human rights.
Henri Tiphagne, executive director of People's Watch, Tamil Nadu, narrated to him the circumstances of a string of ‘encounter killings' in his State by the police. He said a shocking fact noticed was that some of these killings were by officers who had turned ‘habitual killers' — the same officers were behind more than one encounter killing.
A few relatives of those killed in encounters during the police hunt for forest brigand Veerappan narrated to the U.N. Special Rapporteur the ‘police repression' they too had to undergo and the blocks in the system to bring them to justice. Advocates fighting for the victims of human rights violations spoke of attitudinal problems among even judges and heads of human rights commissions in the country in seeing human rights violations as a serious crime.
One of them said even persons in the judiciary and national institutions for protecting human rights had been found, surprisingly, to come on record in recent years as stating that “extra judicial killings could not be avoided.”
The police justified encounter killings by projecting the victims as villainous criminals. Officers involved were being rewarded, he said, citing the example of one being made the chief of the police force in one of the south Indian States and in another case an officer known for his violence was selected for the national award.
What an incredible shame. Indians should put their own house in order before condemning neigbours be they Sri Lanka etc