By Raju Vernekar
New Delhi, Dec 10
While the recent Unnao and Telangana rape incidents have stirred the country, the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tripura, calling for a detailed report in the matter of sexual assault and subsequent death of a minor girl after she was set on fire by her tormentor, in Agartala district of Tripura.
The Commission has called for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including status of the investigation and any relief granted to the next of the kin of the deceased. The Commission has observed that though it is not mentioned in the media reports that whether the aggrieved family or the victim had approached the police with their complaint, the death of a minor girl as a result of a barbaric act done by the accused is a matter of concern. Reiterating its displeasure towards increasing incidents of sexual assault of women across the country, the Commission has said that it is awaiting reports from all the states and Union Territories including Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in the matter.
According to the reports, on 28 October,2019, the victim was kidnapped by the accused from her residence and was subjected to sexual abuse. Later, the accused raised a demand of Rs. 5 Lakhs in lieu of solemnizing marriage with the victim. Some amount of money was reportedly paid by the victim’s family and there was a dispute between the family and the accused for the remaining money. Subsequently the accused and his mother were arrested by the police.
As part of the world human rights day, a function organized by NHRC, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Addressing the gathering, President Ram Nath Kovind said that the effective strengthening of the human rights at the ground level is a collective task of the whole society. In this regard, the NHRC has done well in spreading awareness and joining hands with civil society to further the cause. Pointing out the contribution of Hansaben Mehta in the field of human rights and gender equality, the President said that we can make a beginning by asking ourselves if we, as a society, have lived up to her vision of equal rights and equal dignity of women. Unfortunately, a series of events in the recent past force us to think again. Incidents of heinous crime against women are reported from many parts of the country. This is not limited to one place or one nation. Thus, the ideal way to commemorate the World Human Rights Day is for the whole world to introspect what more we need to do to live up to the letter and spirit of the sacred text of the Declaration.
On the occasion, Justice H. L. Dattu, Chairperson, NHRC and former Chief Justice of India also addressed the gathering and released NHRC journals and DVD of award winning short films on human rights. Later in the evening, another function was organized at Manav Adhikar Bhawan, New Delhi, to present NHRC short film awards-2019 to the three winners.
Even as the World Human Rights Day was, the Commission decided to set up a task force to prepare a National Action Plan on Human Rights ( NAPHR) comprising the representatives of various Ministries, NGOs, Civil Society and the NHRC among the other stakeholders. This will help flag the key issues of human rights for the government(s), which would require to be addressed with a targeted approach to improve the human rights situation in the country through a sustained mechanism.
As per the statistics released by NHRC on Human Rights Day, in the last one year, it received 48395 cases of human rights violations, related to different topics right from custodial deaths to the inaction by the state/central government officials. Of these 26352 cases were cleared, while 22043 cases (fresh and old) were under consideration.
In November alone, NHRC registered 6800 cases. Of these 6672 (Fresh and old), were disposed off and it recommended monetary relief worth Rs. 73.25 lakh to the victims in 27 cases. The break up was : custodial death (Judicial) (12 cases) Rs 32 lakh, harassment of prisoners (one case)- Rs.5 lakh, rape outside police station(one case)-Rs 3 lakh, atrocities on SC/ST by police (one case) Rs.1.50 lakh, failure in taking lawful action (2 cases)- Rs.2.25 lakh, victimisation-(one case)-Rs 5 lakh, alleged custodial death in police custody (one case)-Rs 3 lakh, miscellaneous (one case)-Rs one lakh, inaction by the state/central government officials (5 cases)- Rs. 12.50 lakh, death due to electrocution (one case)- Rs 3 lakh, abuse of power (one case) –Rs 5 lakh, (total cases-27), total-Rs 73.25 lakh.
This year, NHRC has taken many new initiatives to expand its outreach. It has linked its online complaint filing system with over three lakh common service centres spread across the country, which is expected to be helpful to people in far flung areas to file their complaints quickly. It has also started the services of NHRC Toll Free Helpline number 14433. The State authorities can also file online reports to the NHRC using this portal to avoid delay in providing relief to the victims of human rights violations. The Commission also started video conferencing with the state authorities to expedite disposal of cases.
NHRC has made a number of interventions on key issues of human rights, which include the issues of bonded and child labour, prison reforms, right to health, mental healthcare, rights of persons with disabilities, silicosis, illegal clinical drug trials, pesticides in food items, pricing of drugs, corporate-social responsibility, manual scavenging and sanitation, human rights of women.
NHRC was set up on 12 October, 1993 to promote a culture of human rights. It is a recommendatory body as per the “ The Protection of Human Rights Act 1993”. But this provision has not come in the way of most of the recommendations of the NHRC being accepted by the Governments resulting in the trust and confidence of the people in it.
Human Rights Day is observed on 10 December, every year to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 as the shared standard yardstick to protect human rights across the globe. The Declaration recognizes that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of mankind are the foundation of justice, freedom and peace in the world.
The United Nations’ theme for this year’s Human Rights Day is: “Youth Standing up for Human Rights.” Under this theme, the youth will be encouraged to amplify their voices against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination and fight for climate justice, among other issues, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]
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