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POLICEMEN SHOULD BE THE PROTECTORS OF HUMAN RIGHTS: NHRC

: If a policeman is sensitive to human misery, he can bring succor to the common man by ensuring protection of human rights, Mr. Sharad Chandra Sinha, Member, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said here on Friday.

“If a policeman is true to his uniform, he can be the best protector of human rights,” Mr. Sinha, a former Director General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), said during a free-wheeling discussion with faculty members and officers of the SOA (Deemed to be University). It was the job of the police to bring relief to people, he said. Mr. Sinha did not approve of the killings of six naxalite women cadres in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra a few years ago saying the “police had no business to kill them after they had dropped their arms and raised their hands in surrender.”

If the police says that they had fired in self defence, it would not suffice as once the naxalite cadres had raised their hands in surrender, the right to private defence (for the cops) ceased to exist, he said.

Referring to some issues the NHRC was dealing with, Mr. Sinha said it was handling the case of migrant labourers who moved from one state to another to work as bonded labourers.

Pointing out that there was an act which prohibited the system of bonded labour, he said the administration has to ensure their release.

Mr. Sinha referred to the case of a group of bonded labourers from Odisha who worked in Andhra Pradesh. After they were released and relocated to their own state, the state administration was required to pay them rehabilitation allowance of Rs. 20,000—with a central component of Rs. 10,000—per head and find them alternative employment.

“The freed bonded labourers, however, were not paid the allowance with the officials explaining that they had not received the central component of the amount to be paid to the labourers,” Mr. Sinha said.

The NHRC instructed the state government to disburse the amount from its own funds immediately and recover the same when the central component was received, he said. The NHRC also inquired into allegation of over 200 people from Madhya Pradesh, who worked in the mines and quarries of Gujarat, suffering from silicosis resulting in their death.

“Silicosis is caused by silica dust and the investigations revealed the labourers had indeed been victims of the disease,” he said and added the NHRC recommended that the Gujarat government should pay Rs. three lakh to the family of each of the deceased.

As the state did not budge, the NHRC took the matter to the apex court which upheld the recommendation, Mr. Sinha said.

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