New Delhi: On April 25, a number of democratic rights organisations collectively released a statement condemning attorney general Mukul Rohatgi’s defence of the Indian army’s use of Farooq Ahmed Dar as a human shield in Beerwah, Kashmir.
Rohatgi had said that “peculiar situations require peculiar measures”, which essentially ignores the illegality of the army’s actions. Pointing this out, the statement said, “Using non-combatants as human shield amounts to torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of citizens goes against the very spirit of Article 21 [of the constitution].”
Furthermore, the statement asserted that the army’s treatment of Dar was abhorrent, illegal and in violation of the constitution. Even if Kashmir is considered a “disturbed area”, insofar as the rule of law does not operate, under the Rules of War (Geneva Convention, 1949) the use of a human shield is strictly prohibited and is considered a war crime. However, as the statement pointed out, as per the central government’s own insistence, the rule of law does prevail in Kashmir.
Therefore, when Rohatgi said that it was a “smart” and “practical” thing to do, the statement alleges that the highest legal officer of the government either betrays a peculiar ignorance or law or is clearly condoning actions that were evidently unconstitutional.
“His statement is not only offensive but shows reckless disregard for lawless acts directed against civilians and then justifies it by using spurious arguments which amount to utter contempt for the Constitution,” the press release said.
The illegality of the army’s actions in using Dar as a human shield to deter stone pelters has attracted criticism from various quarters. It has, however, also drawn praise, with an armed forces judge suggesting that 100 stone pelters ought to be shot. The incident is telling of the impunity that the army enjoys in Kashmir, especially with the central government protecting its violations.
Read the full statement below.