''The government generally respected the rights of its citizens,'' says the US State Department's annual report released here yesterday. It notes that a lack of accountability permeated the government and security forces throughout the country, creating an atmosphere of impunity. In this context, it particularly mentioned the Chhattisgarh state government which supported the formation of the 'Salwa Judum' village militia to fight the Maoist insurgency.
In West Bengal, violence in the Nandigram district led to accusations of state government failure to control ruling Communist party cadres, which were accused by human rights groups of killing more than 30 rural villagers and intimidating them through violence and rape, it says. The US document also says that separatist guerrillas and terrorists in Kashmir, the northeast, and the Naxalite belt committed numerous serious abuses, including killing armed forces personnel, police, government officials, judges, and civilians.
Insurgents also engaged in widespread torture, rape, beheadings, kidnapping, and extortion, it says.
''Although the country has numerous laws protecting human rights,'' the report points out, enforcement was inadequate and convictions rare. Poor prison conditions, lengthy pretrial detention without charge, and prolonged detention while undergoing trial remained significant problems.'' The report says Government officials used special anti-terrorism legislation to justify the excessive use of force while combating terrorism and several regional insurgencies. While security officials who committed human rights abuses generally enjoyed impunity, there were investigations into individual abuse cases as well as legal punishment of some perpetrators.