Rights Violations: 'J&K Heading For Zero Tolerance'
17 October 2007
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has said the State was heading for achieving 'zero tolerance' in human rights violations as there had been cases of custodial disappearances this year so far. 'If nothing goes wrong in the next two months, this will be the first year in nearly two decades when no case of custodial disappearance would be reported,' he said while inaugurating the Second All-India Editors Conference on Social Sector Issues organised by the Press Information Bureau, the Union Rural Development Ministry and the State Government here on Wednesday. According to him, not only were the cases of human rights violations coming down but also action was being taken against policemen found guilty of such crimes. He quoted the killing of innocent people as terrorists in an encounter. Graves were dug up earlier this year and DNA testing proved those killed were innocent. Two SSPs and a dozen policemen were arrested in the case. 'Achievement' Claiming that the situation had improved in the past two years, Mr. Azad said rights violations were under check and custodial deaths had dropped by 95 per cent. 'We can boast of this achievement,' he added. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the State to be turned into zero tolerance zone on human rights violations during his visit in 2004. Pointing out that there was much more to J&K than just militancy and violence, the Chief Minister urged the media to reach out to the people by promoting the policies and legislation made by the government for their welfare. 'We are responsible people but have inadequacies and hope media will come to our rescue to reach out to the people,' he said. Hike in outlay Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the Ministry would increase the outlay for its scheme to Rs. 2.15-lakh crore for the 11th Five-Year Plan as against Rs.1.14-lakh crore in the previous plan. Speaking about the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) that would now be extended to the whole of the country, Mr. Singh said it had helped in ensuring wage employment to the rural unemployed youth and check distress migration. The world is today watching the scheme that will change the face of rural India, he added. Responding to questions later, the Minister said poverty and unemployment supplemented militancy and if these issues were tackled, violence could be checked and even eradicated. The NREGA was the only social welfare programme that was not being sabotaged by the naxalites in the affected areas. According to him, complaints of corruption in the implementation of the scheme were being looked into. Issues such as fewer women demanding jobs were also being addressed.