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PUCL, 2008

PUCL Letter to NHRC on Media Management of Report on Salwa Judum

PEOPLE'S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES– CHHATTISGARH
Post Box No. 87, Main Post Office, Raipur – 492001: Chhattisgarh: India
E-mail: pucl.cg@gmail.com

October 10, 2008

To,
The Hon’ble Justice Shri S. Rajendra Babu,
Chairperson,
National Human Rights Commission,
Faridkot House,
Copernicus Marg,
New Delhi – 110 001

SUBJECT: Media Reports on NHRC Report on Salwa Judum
Submitted to the Supreme Court of India

Respected Hon’ble Justice Rajendra Babu Ji,

Greetings from the Chhattisgarh Unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

This is specifically to draw your attention to the misleading Media Reports appearing in a section of the Press (both at the National & Regional Level) misinterpreting the nature and content of the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum submitted to the Supreme Court of India.

I am puzzled and pained at the media manipulations of the facts of the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum, giving misinformation and spreading falsehoods. A few copies of these Media Reports are enclosed herewith (ANNEXURE I). For example, the Raipur based Hindi newspapers appearing on 7th of October, 2008 carried on the front page news reports about the said Report with the following headlines:

“Human Rights Commission has Submitted Report to the Supreme Court:
GIVES CLEAN CHIT TO SALWA JUDUM & CHHATTISGARH GOVERNMENT”
(English Translation of the Original Head Line)

Further contents of these press reports go on to justify the misleading headline, by misquoting and/or selectively quoting from the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum.

Similar pattern has been followed by a few National Dailies. Copies of these news-reports are also enclosed herewith. (Annexure II)

While fact of the matter is that ever a cursory glance at the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum contains several instances and incidents, verified and substantiated which include heinous crimes like murder, arson, looting, fake encounters, etc. committed by Salwa Judum, Security Forces, State Police and SPOs. A few examples of these are contained in the following paragraphs of the said Report:

Chapter-6 Findings

6.09, 6.12, 6.21, 6.22, 6.24, 6.25, 6.30, 6.37.2, 6.37.3, 6.38, 6.38.1, 6.38.2, 6.38.3, 6.38.4, 6.39.1, 6.39.2, 6.40, 6.40.2, 6.40.3, 6.40.4, 6.40.6, 6.42.10, 6.44.7, 6.44.8, 6.44.12, 6.44.19, 6.45.3, 6.46.1, 6.47.1, 6.47.3, 6.51.4, 6.52.1, 6.53, 6.53.2, 6.54.1, 6.55, 6.60.1, 6.60.4, 6.61.1, 6.61.2, 6.62, 6.62.4, 6.63.2, 6.63.3, 6.63.4, 6.63.5, 6.63.6, 6.63.7, 6.64, 6.64.1, 6.65.3, 6.65.6, 6.67.2, 6.67.3, 6.68.3, 6.68.4, 6.69.1, 6.69.2, 6.69.3, 6.69.4, 6.69.5, 6.71.1, 6.72.5, 6.73.4.

Even in the Recommendations made by the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum, there are substantial indications that the State Government has to take concrete steps to control such crimes, and also conduct independent investigations/enquiry into these crimes.

While a detailed analysis of the NHRC Report on Salwa Judum is also being done by the Chhattisgarh Unit of the PUCL, as it contains several contradictions and conclusions that are divorced from their own findings and facts, at the moment we are addressing your esteem office to take cognizance of the misinformation and falsehoods spread by a section of the Media on the report of a prestigious/statutory body in our country. We would also request that the NHRC should issue a note to the press correcting the false impression being created in the mind of the public in general, and policy makers in particular, about the nature and content of the said report.

Many of us feel that in the deteriorating democratic values and space, the NHRC and the Supreme Court of India are the last resort to seek justice and truth from the forces of death and destruction of life and liberty. Against this backdrop, it is all the more necessary that falsehoods and misinformation being spread by such institutions be brought to a halt by legal and constitutional means. And, we believe that it is for the NHRC to take concrete steps in this direction.

Through a copy of this complaint, we are also drawing the attention of the Press Council of India, and the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India about this media manipulation of a sensitive matter which has serious implications on the polity and public life.

Looking forward to your positive response and action in this regard. This comes with good wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Rajendra K Sail
President

Mobile: 094242-01288

C.C.:

1. The Chairperson, Press Council of India, New Delhi
2. The Hon’ble Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, New Delhi
3. Adv K G Kannabiran, President, National PUCL
4. Prof Y P Chibbar, General Secretary, National PUCL

Encl: As stated above.

 

Press Release:

NO CLEAN CHIT BY NHRC
TO SALWA JUDUM & CG GOVERNMENT

(PUCL WRITES TO NHRC ABOUT MEDIA REPORTS)

Raipur, 16th October, 2008:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has cited several incidents of heinous crimes committed by Salwa Judum, Security Forces, State Police & SPOs in its report submitted to the Supreme Court of India. In spite of these facts mentioned in the NHRC Report, the media reports giving misinformation and spreading falsehoods have become a matter of concern, demanding corrective measures the false impression being created in the mind of the public

The Chhattisgarh PUCL has drawn the attention of the Justice Shri S. Rajendra Babu, Chairperson, NHRC through a letter containing detailed discrepancies between the media reports and NHRC findings. Copies of the letter have been sent to the Press Council of India and the Supreme Court of India.

Quoting heavily from Chapter 6 entitled FINDINGS of the NHRC Report, the CG PUCL President, Rajendra K Sail has said that several instances and incidents, verified and substantiated by the NHRC Fact-Finding Team include heinous crimes like murder, arson, looting, fake encounters, etc. committed by Salwa Judum, Security Forces, State Police and SPOs.

PUCL has also challenged the State Government to take seriously the recommendations made by the NHRC in this regard, all of these are based on such complicities of the Salwa Judum, Security Forces, State Police & and SPOs. It has further demanded from the State Government to chalk out a concrete plan of action to implement the Recommendations contained in Chapter 9 of the NHRC Report, as the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its order dated 19h September, 2008 that “Meanwhile, the State Government may consider the recommendations given by the Commission to do anything regarding law and order.”

In its recommendations, the NHRC has specifically asked for registering of FIRs on receipt of information of congizable offences, and in cases registered against police and security forces the investigation be conducted by an independent agency like CB/CID. What is significant is that one of the recommendations clearly indicate towards violation of human rights by the security force personnel, when it says that “The security forces personnel who are deployed in the area, especially for the protection of Camps, should be sensitized about human rights in order to minimize the violations of these rights at their hands”.

The recommendations also point towards several irregularities in maintaining proper police records and malpractices in the distribution of rations and other relief materials in the Relief Camps, lack of compensation to those who have lost their houses/belongings in arson/looting irrespective of perpetrators, improper transfer policy for the police forces, and indifferent and inaction in finding missing persons, etc.
PUCL has expressed pain and concern at the media management and manipulation, obviously at the behest of State apparatus, of such a sensitive issue like Salwa Judum, and has appealed to the media persons to beware of such mechanisms being adopted by the vested interests. PUCL has, time and again, stood by the principle of freedom of the press, and considers it to be one of the effective pillars of healthy democratic structure.

Rajendra K Sail

President
Mobile: 094242-01288

PEOPLE'S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES–
CHHATTISGARH
Post Box No. 87, Main Post Office, Raipur – 492001: Chhattisgarh: India
E-mail: pucl.cg@gmail.com

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People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014