South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

The latest report by Ain-O-Salish Kendra makes dismal reading. In the past three months, according to the report, as many as thirty individuals have died in so-called crossfire incidents in the country while twenty five others died in police custody. By any standard of morality as well as legality, these incidents are appalling in nature. They fly in the face of the government’s claims that no ‘crossfire’ deaths have occurred in all the time since it took office in January 2009. Now contrast that with a recent ministerial comment to the effect that crossfire killings have seeped into the system and it will take time for such killings to be brought to an end. Such contradictory positions are disturbing.

The figures released by ASK beg the question: what explanation does the government have on offer now that the truth is once more out there in the open? Note that ASK did not produce the figures but only put them together on the basis of news reports in the various national dailies. The one proper course for the authorities now will or should be an admission that these killings in ‘crossfire’ have indeed taken place and that these extra-judicial killings will be properly probed. With all the incidents of such killings that we have come across in the past two years, there can really be no point in the government’s denying these reports or suggesting that the killings were basically a consequence of defence measures adopted by the law enforcers under attack from criminal elements. Such arguments lack validity and therefore credibility, for the simple reason that except for the ones killed in ‘crossfire’ none among the criminal gang is nabbed and none among the law enforcers is injured or killed.

The ASK report should be an eye-opener for the government, especially since the ruling party made it clear before the December 2008 elections that putting an end to extra-judicial deaths was a goal it meant to pursue. It is time for the government to adopt a definitive, decisive position against such killings through reining in the law enforcers.

We have been urging the government to realise how extra-judicial killings keep undermining the rule of law and damaging our image. Yet it falls short of responding. It is indeed high time they rolled it back.

Source: The Daily Star – 03.04.2011