Hashimpura massacre

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Why in news?

  • More than 31 years after 38 Muslims from Hashimpura were rounded up and shot dead by the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), the Delhi High Court sent 16 former jawans to life imprisonment, holding them guilty of murder.

Hashimpura Massacare

  • The incident took place in the evening hours of May 22, 1987, when 42 to 45 elderly men and boys belonging to the Muslim community were rounded up by the PAC personnel, packed into a truck and taken away; 38 of them were later shot in cold blood and the bodies were thrown into the Gang Nahar (canal) and Hindon river.
  • After communal riots had taken over Meerut in April 1987, in a communally charged atmosphere; PAC was called in, but was withdrawn as the riots subsided.
  • However, violence erupted again around 19 May, when 10 people were killed as arson escalated, thus the Army was called out to stage a flag march.
  • Seven companies of CRPF reached the city during the day, while 30 companies of PAC were being rushed in and an indefinite curfew was declared.
  • The following day, mobs burned down Gulmarg cinema hall, and as the death toll rose to 22, plus 75 injured, shoot-at-sight orders were issued on 20 May 1987.
  • On the night of 22 May 1987, 19 PAC personnel, under platoon commander Surinder Pal Singh, rounded up Muslims in the Hashimpur mohalla in Meerut. The old and the children were later separated and let go.
  • They allegedly took about 40–45 of them, mostly day wage labourers and weavers, in a truck to the Upper Ganga canal in Murad Nagar, Ghaziabad district instead of taking them to the police station.
  • Here some were shot, one by one, and thrown into the canal. A bullet also injured one of the PAC constables. After some were killed, the headlights of passing vehicles made PAC personnel flee the spot with those alive.
  • Four of those shot escaped by pretending to be dead and then swimming away; one of them filed a first information report (FIR) at the Murad Nagar Police Station.
  • The remaining men were taken in the truck to the Hindon River Canal near Makanpur village in Ghaziabad, shot and their bodies thrown into the canal. Here again, two of the people who were shot at, survived and lodged an FIR at the Link Road Police Station.

NOTE:

This incident can be used in answers related to Judicial Delays, Communalism, Emotional Intelligence etc.

 

AFSPA : Impact of SC Ruling

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Context:

  • In a July 2016 judgement, SC ended the immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA).
  • A Special Bench monitoring the CBI investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in Manipur will hear a petition filed by 355 Army officers in the Supreme Court, alleging “persecution” by agencies such as the CBI for doing their duty in the insurgency-hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern States.

ias4sure.com - AFSPA Impact of SC Ruling

 

 

What is the dilemma?

  • In a July 2016 judgement, the Bench of Justices Lokur and Lalit ended the immunity provided by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 (AFSPA). The judgment declared that “there is no concept of absolute immunity from trial by a criminal court”.
  • Post the judgement, an “extraordinary circumstance” is prevailing over armed forces personnel fighting in the insurgency-hit areas and the nation’s borders. They are plagued by doubts whether performing their duty to fight enemies would expose them to prosecution and land them in jail.
  • The petition said the Supreme Court’s orders and the resultant CBI action against Army personnel have made soldiers jittery.

 

Why immunity is needed?

  • The on-going situation is demoralising the officers and troops deployed in field areas and fighting in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern States.
  • Lack of immunity from prosecution would have a demoralising impact on the security forces
  • The Indian Army has to, in given circumstances, take quick decisions which cannot be dissected later on like an ordinary murder appeal. The scope of judicial review against active military operations cannot be on the same parameters as in other situations. 

 

Arguments against immunity:

  • Reports of blatant misuse, or rather abuse, of the law by the armed forces have flowed through the years, especially in the Northeast and Kashmir.
  • Impunity is to address any allegation of use of excessive or retaliatory force beyond the call of duty.
  • It is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties that it does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both.
  • Given this history of violence and bloodshed trailing AFSPA, the judiciary’s attempt to make it less draconian and more accountable is a step in the right direction.
  • Judicial review tears down the cloak of secrecy about unaccounted deaths involving security forces in disturbed areas and serves as a judicial precedent to uphold civilian and human rights in sensitive areas under military control.

Tech Giants Data Localisation

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Context

  • Indian government has asked Global Tach giants to set up local data centres.
  • In a fear that it will inhibit their growth aspirations in India with raising cost, the U.S. technology giants plan to intensify lobbying efforts against stringent Indian data localisation requirements.
  • Amazon, American Express and Microsoft, have opposed India’s push to store data locally.

ias4sure.com - Tech Giants Data Localisation

 

 

Issue Area

  • Data localisation is not just a business concern, it potentially makes government surveillance easier, which is a worry.
  • It could lead to increased government demands for data access.
  • Technology firms worry the mandate would hurt their planned investments by raising costs related to setting up new local data centres.
  • The issue could further undermine already strained economic relations between India and the United States.

Assam NRC Issue

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National Register of Citizens, 1951
  • The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document manufactured by the Government which contains the names of Indian citizens. The updation of the NRC is a periodical process. It requires to be updated at regular intervals so as to ensure proper documentation of the citizens as well as to check possible illegal migration.
  • In Assam, the updation of NRC could not be carried out since 1951 due to several political compulsions.
  • The Assam Movement in 1980’s, the language Movement and such other identity movements fought on ethnic lines have heavily impinged on the system of governance in the state thereby leading to a stalemate on the NRC updation issue. After five decades of the stalemate, the present government has initiated steps to update the NRC under the direct supervision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
 
Background of migration
  • The history of Muslims in Assam dates back to the 8th century when, according to some scholars, Turks and Arab traders and sailors came to the Brahmaputra Valley and settled in the Darrang region.
  • After the British annexed Assam as part of the Bengal Presidency in 1826, migrant labourers were brought in from central India to work in tea plantations and this necessitated the production of more food, which the local population could not manage on its own.
  • Moreover, a spurt in demand in the jute market necessitated an increase in jute cultivation in Bengal, which again was not possible. Both these reasons were behind the migration of Muslim farmers of East Bengal to Assam, first in small numbers. But by the turn of the 20th century, there was a huge influx of migrants to the chars, or river islands, in lower Assam from Bogra, Rangpur, Pabna and Mymensingh districts of Bengal.
 
Is This the First such register?
  • No, there was an NRC across the country in 1951, but that was based on the Census of that year. and this is the first time it is being revised and only In Assam and it is not based on the census
 
Who will be considered Indian citizen?
  • Those whose names were in the 1951 NRC or in any or the electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24.1971 and their descendants
 
What is the procedure?
  • To apply for inclusion in the NRC, one’s name or one’s ancestor’s name must be in the 1951 NRC or in any voter list up to the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date agreed upon in the Assam Accord.
  • If the applicant’s name is not on any of these lists, he can produce any of the 12 other documents dated up to March 24, 1971, like land or tenancy record, citizenship certificate or permanent residential certificate or passport or court records or refugee registration certificate. March 25, 1971 is when the Bangladesh Liberation War began.
  • If the applicant’s ancestor’s name is on any of these lists, the applicant will have to prove his relationship to his ancestor by producing his board or university certificate, ration card or any other legally acceptable
  • An Indian citizen from another state who moved to Assam after the specified date is not eligible for inclusion in the NRC though he can continue to vote.
 
What is Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955
  • Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 those who came from Bangladesh between 1966 and 1971 will have to register themselves with the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer, and will be included in the NRC, but will not have voting rights for 10 years from the date of registration.
  • But According to Article 6 of the Constitution, the cutoff for determining citizenship in India is July 19, 1948.
 
Why is an updation necessary?
  • It is the struggle of those who wanted to save their culture from being extinct and be reduced to an ethnic minority section in their homeland
  • The Indigenous people of Assam fear that the unabated influx or growing stream of immigrants and infiltrators from across the border would one day reduce them into a small minority
  • Immigration problem has been regarded as a “Security Threat” as it creates problem not only for personal security and human rights issues but also creates internal and international security problem.
  • The NRC is to be updated to comply with the demands in the Assam Accord. signed in 1985 by Rajiv Gandhi and leaders or the Assam Movement
 
What happens to those who came from neighbouring countries after March 24, 1971?
  • While the demand has been that such people be sent back to the countries they came from, India needs to sign repatriation treaties with Bangladesh and Nepal for the same

ias4sure.com - Assam NRC Issue

 
NRC and Controversies
  • Many Question the validity or the 1951 NRC since it was incomplete
  • People complain that the government has not made available all electoral rolls up to 1971 in all districts. The government says it has provided whatever is available
  • Doubtful voters will have to have their names cleared by the Foreigners Tribunal before their inclusion in the NRC
  • One of the oft-repeated complaints is the discrepancy In names In different government documents, caused by misspelling of names and inclusion or nicknames instead or actual names
  • There has been concern from Indigenous tribes who may not have any pre-1971 documents to prove their Identity. While all original inhabitants or Assam are to be included in Assam, the modalities tor the same have not been finalized
  • Many of the Muslims who had fled Assam could only return later, thereby not being included in the 1951 Census and NRC.
 
Opposition to NRC revision
  • There are writ petition pending before Supreme Court to declare cut-off year as 1951 instead of 1971.
  • There are question about validity of 1951 NRC data because it was incomplete.
  • Few supports NRC be updated on the basis of 2014 electoral roll.
  • Few feel this revision exercise should be carried out in entire country instead of being selective to Assam.
 
Post NRC revision
  • The treatment to those who will be left out of NRC revision will become a political issue.
  • As per Assam Accord, the foreigners who came post 1971 were to be evicted. However, it is much easier said than done. From 1985 to 2012, the government has been able to send back only around 2500 out of over 55000 identified illegal migrants.
  • India needs repatriation treaty with Nepal and Bangladesh to push back those who will be excluded from NRC.
  • There are claims for religion based differentiation of illegal migrants which may further complicate the settlement process. Some political parties claim that the Hindus who came from Bangladesh are not foreigners and should be given citizenship.
  • Since Bangladesh is not ready to take them back, lakhs of such Indian citizens, who have had their names on the Indian electoral rolls for the past four decades, and who are in possession of Electoral Photo Identity Card, would be rendered stateless.
 
Why update NRC in Assam?
  • The NRC is being updated in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals, who may have illegally entered the State after the midnight of March 24, 1971, the cut-off date
  • This date was originally agreed to in the 1985 Assam Accord, signed between the then Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)
  • In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the then Tarun Gogoi government in Assam and the AASU where it was decided to update the NRC that was first published after the Census data of 1951 in post-Partition India
 
Is the NRC a court-mandated exercise?
  • The publication of the first draft of the NRC by December 31, 2017, was ordered by the Supreme Court
  • The top court has been hearing this case since July 2009 when Assam Public Works moved court to intervene in detecting and deporting Bangladeshis
NRC Data published:
  • Second and final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published with 2.9 crore names out of the total 3.29 crore applicants in Assam.
  • The names of 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the historic document, touted to be a proof of Assamese identity.
  • The first draft of the NRC was published during the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 this year, containing 1.9 crore names.
  • The process for making claims and objections will begin on August 30 and continue till September 28. Adequate and ample scope will be given to people for making objections.
 
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NE-Insurgency

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What is insurgency?

An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents . In case of Indian scenario it can be seen as armed rebellion and violent protests against Indian Government or authority.

Why is the North-eastern region prone to insurgency?

  • The seven sister states are predominantly tribal with some states having more than 90% tribal populations.
  • The forest laws since the British times became intrusive & drastically affected their livelihoods & culture.
  • The diversity within even small territories proved to be difficult to accommodate within the same political administration.
  • This led to numerous demands, ranging from more autonomy to complete independence.
  • The Bengali migration from present day Bangladesh to the north-east during 1947 & later has also added considerable resentment that has shown up both in electoral & militant modes.

What are some of the prominent militant groups in the north–east?

NSCM

  • Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, was formed to advance the Naga cause for sovereignty.
  • This organisation has operations in the Naga inhabited regions of India & Myanmar, with easy cross border access.
  • This group has had major splits. Issac-Muivah faction (NSCN – IM) is currently involved in peace talks with the Indian government, while the Kaplang faction with its major operations in Myanmar is designated as a terror outfit by India.

ULFA

  • The United Liberation Front of Assam is operating to establish a sovereign Assam through an armed struggle.
  • The Indian government banned it in 1990s & a severe crackdown was launched in 2010, which considerably brought down their numbers.

Some other organisations of significance are Mizo National Front and National Liberation Front of Tripura. 

Naga Insurgency and Government’s approach:

North eastern part of India has been plagues by many insurgencies in different parts. Out of them the Naga Insurgency has been the longest running insurgency which began soon after Independence in 1947, led by Naga Nationalist Council (NNC) under Angami Phizo.
 

After the rebel group gave up armed resistance and came to the negotiating table with the government, the state of Nagaland was created in 1963. However a new rebel group National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) was established in 1980 with the purpose of establishing a sovereign state of ‘Greater Nagaland’ comprising of areas from Myanmar, Nagaland, Mizoram etc.
 

The Indian Government has always followed the position that it will not negotiate under the threat of violence. Thus, till the time the insurgent groups swear on armed activity, they are repressed by use of instruments like the armed forces, police etc. However, if they renounce violence then the government engages with them to settle their grievances in a democratic manner.
 

This has been the policy of the government in Nagaland as well, where a cease fire between the government and the insurgent groups have been in place since 1997. However, there are many problems with the government’s approach –
 

  1. Use of repression by armed forces has alienated the civilian population of the region, thus providing support and cadres to the insurgents.
  2. The government has tried to turn the various groups against one other for tactical gains. However, this policy has caused a lot of collateral damage in the form of civilian deaths.
  3. The central government has not kept the state government in the loop on the question of its negotiations with the insurgents. This deprives the government of local insights and input in the matter.
  4. The excessively long duration of negotiations – 18 years and continuing has been the cause of considerable heartburn among the people. Also, govt. does not negotiate with khaplangs (myanmarese) but only with Issac muivah faction of NSCN
  5. Close co-operation and co-ordination with neighboring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh to ensure that there are no safe havens for insurgents.
     

On the other hand the government policy has ensured that the number of deaths due to militant violence has been brought down. It must now ensure that it can negotiate a permanent solution to the problem and thus help bring peace and attendant prosperity to the region

Related Qs:

  • Critically comment on India’s approach towards dealing with the Naga insurgents in the Northeast. (200 Words)

AFSPA

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What is AFSPA?

  • AFSPA was enacted in 1958 amid the nascent Naga insurgency. It gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”. It also protects them from legal processes for actions taken under the act.

Which states are under AFSPA?

It is in force in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Manipur (except the Imphal municipal area). In Arunachal Pradesh, only the Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts plus a 20-km belt bordering Assam come under its purview. And in Meghalaya AFSPA is confined to a 20-km area bordering Assam.

How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?

Section (3) of the AFSPA empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid.

Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.

What is state government’s role?

The state governments can suggest whether the act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the act, their opinion can be overruled by the governor or the Centre.

Is the act uniform in nature?

Initially, it was meant only for Assam and Manipur, where there was an insurgency by Naga militants. After the reorganisation of the northeast in 1971, the creation of new states like Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh paved the way for the AFSPA to be amended, so that it could be applied to each of them. The amendments contain different sections as applicable to the situation in each state.

What are the criticism of AFSPA?
Criticism of AFSPA:

  1. Violating fundamental rights as can be seen
    1. Sec 4(a) in which army can shoot to kill violates article 21 which gives right to life.
    2. Section 4(b) search without warrants violates right to liberty and article 22.
    3. Dispersion of civil assembly by armed forces under section 121 violates right to assembly
    4. No judicial magistrate permission required while arresting –violate article 22
    5. Stop and search any vehicle
  2. Overrides CrPC.
  3. Violation of human rights
  4. Abuses by army, and are rarely punished for crimes.
  5. It alienates the people from army and then from the rest of the India. A feeling of other worldly is generated in their mind.

Why Army favors AFSPA?

  • It the powers necessary to conduct counter-insurgency operations efficiently.
  • If AFSPA is repealed or diluted, it is the army leadership’s considered view that the performance of battalions in counter-insurgency operations will be adversely affected and the terrorists or insurgents will seize the initiative.
  • Many argue that removal of the act will lead to demoralising the armed forces and see militants motivating locals to file lawsuits against the army.
  • Also, the forces are aware that they cannot afford to fail when called upon to safeguard the country’s integrity. Hence, they require the minimum legislation that is essential to ensure efficient utilization of combat capability. This includes safeguards from legal harassment and empowerment of its officers to decide on employment of the minimum force that they consider essential.
  • The absence of such a legal statute would adversely affect organizational flexibility and the utilization of the security capacity of the state. This would render the security forces incapable of fulfilling their assigned role.
  • AFSPA is necessary to maintain law and order in disturbed areas, otherwise things will go haywire. The law also dissuades advancement of terrorist activities in these areas.
  • Also, extraordinary situations require special handling. As the army does not have any police powers under the Constitution, it is in the national interest to give it special powers for operational purposes when it is called upon to undertake counter-insurgency operations in disturbed areas.

What are the safeguards provided under AFSPA?

  • Section 5 of the Act already mandates that arrested civilians must be handed over to the nearest police station ‘with the least possible delay’ along with a report of ‘circumstances occasioning the arrest.’
  • Army HQ has also laid down that all suspects who are arrested will be handed over to civilian authorities within 24 hours.
  • Regarding firing on civilians, the army’s instructions are that fire may be opened in towns and villages only in self defence and that too when the source of terrorist or militant fire can be clearly identified.

 

What should be done?

  1. Jeevan Reddy Committee recommended AFSPA be repealed and some of its provisions incorporated in other laws such as CrPC, unlawful activities which give protection to forces.
  2. Create committees at district level with representatives of army, administrators and public which will report, assess and track complains in that area.
  3. All investigations should be time bound reasons for the delay must be communicated with the aggrieved.
  4. All cases of human rights violation should be fast tracked.
  5. Amendments In Laws :The lacunae in the Act, as a result of definitional voids with respect to terms like disturbed, dangerous and land forces” need to be amplified to ensure greater clarity
  6. The onus of proving the alleged person as terrorists should lie with the forces. Sec 7 should be suitable amended to this effect.

What is the SC ruling in this regard?

  • Army and paramilitary forces cannot use excessive and retaliatory force during counter-insurgency operations in disturbed areas declared disturbed under the AFSPA
  • Criminal courts have the jurisdiction over cases of alleged excesses by security forces which earlier were under blanket of immunity provided by AFSPA
  • Court said it does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the state. The law is the same for both and is equally applicable to both
  • The provisions of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the purported immunity it offers to the use of force “even to the extent of causing death” are not invincible.
  • Such legal protection has to yield to larger principles of human rights, and no allegation of the use of excessive or retaliatory force can be ignored without a thorough inquiry. This is a requirement both of democracy and for the preservation of the rule of law.

Related questions:

  • In the light of allegations of human rights violations, critically comment of the implications of AFSPA and recommend changes to the Act to address the concerns raised against it. (200 Words)
     

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