New Delhi: Over a dozen rights organisations in a joint statement released Tuesday condemned Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s defence of the Indian army’s use of Farooq Ahmed Dar as a human shield in Beerwah, Kashmir which according to them was "abhorrent, illegal and in violation of the constitution".
"Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations denounces Government of India and its Law officer for being parsimonious in their espousal of wisdom. Ignorance of law is not counted as an excuse or exonerates a citizen from being prosecuted for commission of a crime", the joint statement by rights group said.
"Even if Kashmir is considered a “disturbed area”, in so far 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, this 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 joint 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]", they added.
“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 joint statement of the rights group came at a time when the India's use of force is widely criticised by the world media.
In a hard hitting editorial, The New York Times described India's security crackdown in Kashmir as "brutal" and cautioned that it will feed more militancy.
The editorial commented that members of India's armed forces "reached a new low in the long history of alleged human rights abuses" in Kashmir when they beat and tied 24-year-old shawl weaver Farooq Ahmad Dar to the front of a jeep using him as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds.
The editorial published on Saturday said that the Indian government must ensure that human rights are protected in Kashmir.