'Lives of Securitymen Combating Naxals Precious Too'

New Delhi
'Lives of Securitymen Combating Naxals Precious Too'
Terming Naxalism as a "very complex" issue, Justice K G Balakrishnan, who took over as the chairman of NHRC today, said "due consideration" should also be given to rights of security personnel engaged in fighting the menace.

"Members of police force, enforcement agencies are also human beings. Their life is also precious. Just like ordinary persons, they also have to be given due consideration...A large number of security persons are dying," he told reporters after assuming charge of the rights body.

He was asked about the human rights of police personnel as well as tribals living in Naxal zones.

Indicating that the problem of Naxalism was linked to development, he said "tribals, locals, those who are residing in the locality, they are denied education...There are no hospitals, no roads...And there are so many things. It is not a simple issue...It is a very very complex issue."

Balakrishnan recalled a recent statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that 200 districts in the country are affected by Naxalism.

Balakrishnan, who remained guarded in answering questions on mercy petitions, khap panchayats and today's verdict on Bhopal gas tragedy, refuted suggestions that the National Human Rights Commission lacked powers.

"NHRC is a highly prestigious organisation...I don't think NHRC lacks tooth and nail," he said in reply to a question.

Refusing to comment on whether the court verdict on Bhopal gas tragedy was "too less and too late", he said he could not speak on a judgement.

But at the same time he noted that if the quantum of punishment was less, the aggrieved party can move a review petition as per law. "Less punishment is also a ground for appeal," he said.

He said the "positive fallout" of the gas tragedy was that the Environment Protection Act became active after the incident.

The new NHRC chief said several hospitals were still functioning to treat the victims of the gas leak.

On honour killings, he only said a "killing is a killing" and refused to get drawn further into the controversy.

Asked whether there should be a time-line for the Government to act on mercy petitions of people on death row, he said, "There is no time fixed to consider mercy petition under law."

Asked whether it was human rights violation to keep a convict waiting for disposal of his mercy petition, he said in a lighter vein that "they are living, so you want to execute them immediately...So is there no human rights violation (in this)?"
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