ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Farce of Transparency and Media's Lapses

The media, with notable exceptions, has neglected enquiring into rights violations, generally accepting official explanations. It needs to be more alert to such events and also to the state's moves to introduce legislation that threatens to curtail journalists rights.

Why does the Indian media, which creditably reports violations of human rights in the country, neglect their exposures internationally? On February 2, 2000, the UN special rapporteur on Torture and Detentions revealed in his report to the UN Human Rights Commission that “his requests to visit India...have not resulted in invitations” from the government of India. This is the umpteenth time he has so reported. The rapporteur is Sir Nigel Rodley who has served as legal adviser to Amnesty International for about two decades since 1973, became an academic and is the author of an excellent book which broke new ground, The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances utters the same lament every year in its report. Never has this been reported in our press all these years. No questions are asked in parliament, in consequence. Reports by, both, the special rapporteur and the Working Group contain damning material on excesses by the security forces in India. They receive little or no notice in India.

The media has been sorely remiss in not probing into the Chattisinghpora massacre on March 20. Vidya Subramanyam is one of the few, if not the only correspondent, to question the official version of the carnage in her report in The Times of India (June 20). There was a report by the Indian Human Rights Organisation (HO District Courts, Ludhiana 141 001) in a Special Bulletin (Vol 3, Nos 1-4). It received little publicity as did the findings of three human rights activists from Punjab – 35 Sikhs had been killed in cold blood in Chattisinghpora. Five days later, on March 25, five people were killed in Panchaltan allegedly as suspected culprits of the March 20 killings. The people protested furiously. On April 3, seven demonstrators were shot dead in Brakpora by security forces. Last month Amnesty International published a Report entitled INDIA: A Trial of Unlawful Killings in Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisinghpora and Its Aftermath.

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