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Armed Forces to Get Human Rights and Vigilance Cell after Rajnath Singh Approves Restructure

The human rights cell will also comprise an IPS officer, which Army sources say will make the process of investigation into alleged instances of abuse more focused and transparent.

Shreya Dhoundial | CNN-News18

Updated:August 21, 2019, 7:36 PM IST
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Armed Forces to Get Human Rights and Vigilance Cell after Rajnath Singh Approves Restructure
Marching contingent of Indian Army's Sikh Regiment during the full dress rehearsal for the 70th Republic Day Parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
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New Delhi: In a first, the Indian Armed Forces will get a human rights cell headed by an officer of the rank of Major General.

Interestingly, the cell will also have on board an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, a decision that has caused heartburn in a few sections of the Army and is being seen as as inviting unnecessary interference by an outsider. But sources within the Army headquarters say having a police officer on board is critical when it comes to liaisoning with different ministries and civil agencies, especially the police.

The army has often been charged with human right violations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North East where they work under the umbrella of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). But the army has maintained that its human rights record is above board.

A few months back, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had rubbished a report by the United Nations that accused security forces in Jammu and Kashmir of using excessive force, resulting in a number of unlawful killings.

“No need to speak about this human rights report. The human rights record of Indian Army is above board. These reports are motivated,” Rawat had said in June.

Giving out figures, the Army had argued that of the 1,037 allegations of human rights levelled against them, 991 were found to be false. Seventy security personnel have already been punished in the 31 incidents proven to be true.

The human rights cell is part of the restructuring of the Army headquarters that has been given a go-ahead by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Setting up the cell with not just Army officers but also an IPS officer will make the process of investigation more focused and transparent.

Another interesting addition is the setting up of a vigilance cell under the Army Chief. The cell will have representation from all three services — Army, Navy, and the Air Force — with the Director General of Vigilance in the Ministry of Defence reporting to it.

One of the other aim of the re-organisation exercise currently underway is to make the Army headquarters leaner by 20%. At least 206 combat-worthy officers are being shifted from Delhi to those field areas where most units are functioning with only 50% of the required officer strength.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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