Respect human rights, NHRC tells forces in Lalgarh

June 22nd, 2009 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Ram Vilas Paswan New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Taking a strong note of media reports that people were being forced to search for Maoist planted landmines in West Bengal’s Lalgarh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Monday warned the security forces against using humans shields to fight Leftist guerrillas.
The rights commission also appealed to the Leftwing radicals in the trouble-torn area to lay down their arms and protect.

“The commission has seen reports that the security forces deployed in and around Lalgarh have used local residents as human shields or have forced them to look for mines and improvised explosive devices,” an NHRC official said.

“The NHRC expects that, in the ongoing operations, the security and police forces, and officials of the government will not act, or order actions, in contravention of law and the norms of human rights by which they are bound. If they do, the commission will recommend appropriate action against them,” the official said.

Violent unrest broke out in Lalgarh in November last year when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada. Complaining of police atrocities after the blast, angry tribals backed by Maoists launched an agitation virtually cutting off the area from the rest of the district.

The government launched a massive operation to free the area of the radicals recently and after reclaiming Lalgarh, security forces continued their combing operation for the fifth day Monday marching into nearby villages to clear the area of the guerrillas.

While the NHRC spoke strongly against human rights violations by security personnel, it added: “The commission also appeals to the groups against which the government has been forced to deploy its forces, to lay down their arms, and not, through their unlawful actions, put the lives and the livelihoods of the local residents at risk”.

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