Mechanism in place to protect human rights in Chhatisgarh: MHA

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New Delhi, Jul 15 (UNI) The Centre today denied human rights violations by Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh saying that adequate institutional mechanism were existing to protect the rights of citizens of the country.

Reacting to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report criticising Salwa Judum about alleged human rights violations, a Home Ministry spokesman said, ''India is a thriving democracy and has adequate institutional mechanisms to ensure that human rights of its citizens are protected. It has an independent judiciary, free media and commissions at the national and state levels to promote and protect human rights.'' Moreover, the country's active participation in relevant international inter-governmental fora such as the Commission on Human Rights and organs of the United Nations is geared for protection and promotion of human rights, the spokesman said.

According to the HRW report, Indian forces are collaborating with a vigilante group that carries out brutal attacks that have displaced tens of thousands of people in eastern India in an attempt to crush a communist uprising. It has called on the Central government and the Chhattisgarh government to end their support for the Salwa Judum vigilantes and take immediate steps to protect civilians caught in the fighting.

The state government denies supporting Salwa Judum, but dozens of eyewitnesses have described police participating in violent Salwa Judum raids on villages ''killing, looting and burning hamlets.'' The group accused the Salwa Judum militia of routinely abusing poor villagers in the state, thousands of whom have fled or been uprooted from their homes and ancestral lands because of the armed conflict pitting government forces and the militia against the Maoists, known as Naxalites.

It has also called on the communist rebels to end their attacks on civilians and stop recruiting child soldiers.

UNI AJ LPB UCS2003

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