No nod for special human rights violation, vigilance units for armed forces

New Delhi: The government has not yet approved setting up of two special units — human rights and vigilance — for the armed forces to look into any rights violations and corruption, even though defence ministry had given a go-ahead a year ago.
According high priority to the observance of human rights convention and values and ensuring zero-tolerance towards corruption, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had approved the creation of these two units on August 21, 2019.
The nod was given based on a detailed internal study conducted by the Army Headquarters.
“Thereafter it was sent to Cabinet for approval. Now, it’s been more than a year yet these two units have not seen the light of the day as the council of ministers has not given a green signal owing to financial implications,” sources said.
Indian Army Spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand was unavailable for comment about the issue.
In the meantime, a human rights violation incident came to light which forced Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane to interfere and ensure action against errant officers.
On July 18, the Army claimed to have killed three militants in an operation in Amshipura village in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir. Later they turned about to be casual labourers and were allegedly killed in a staged encounter.
On September 18, the Army issued a statement that they found its troops “exceeded” their powers during an encounter in north Kashmir’s Shopian district in which three men were killed in July this year and has initiated disciplinary proceedings.
The Defence Minister had approved a separate Vigilance Cell under Chief of Army Staff (COAS) with tri-services representation and an umbrella organisation under Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) for enhanced focus on human rights issues.
A vigilance cell that will look into complaints of corruption and impropriety will be directly under the COAS. An independent vigilance cell will be made functional under the COAS.
As per the proposal, additional director general (ADG), Vigilance, will be placed directly under the COAS for this purpose, who will be a major general rank officer. It will have three colonel-level officers — one each from the Army, Air Force and Navy — to have tri-service representation.
At present, the vigilance function for the COAS is through multiple agencies and there is no single-point interface, the Ministry of Defence said.
It has been decided to set up a special human rights section headed by ADG (major general rank officer) directly under the VCOAS. It will be the nodal point to examine any human rights violation reports.
To enhance transparency and ensure the best of investigative expertise is available to the section, a police officer of Senior superintendent/ superintendent rank will be taken on deputation. (IANS)

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