“I learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved came from duty well done. Thus, the very right to live accrues to us only when we do the duty of citizenship of the world. From this one fundamental statement, perhaps it is easy enough to define the duties of Man and of Woman and correlate every right to some corresponding duty to be first performed.”
– Mahatma Gandhi on Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Like every year, December 10 will be celebrated as International Human Rights Day with fanfare. Many votaries of human rights who derive their understanding from the Western liberal tradition would come out with their lists of human rights violations in India, including rights of all sorts of minorities from religious to sexual, with long critical pieces on accesses by police and armed forces while denying them the rights, etc. There will be voices of naxalism, terrorism, separatism and many anti-national forces that will use the human rights bogey to justify their anti-rights cause. Some would also raise their concerns at the international level about denial of rights to groups that of Tamils and Palestinians. Of course, as per the Indian Constitution protecting Fundamental Rights of individual and groups as duty of the state is regarded as a pre-condition of democracy. However, unless rights are equally guaranteed and correspondingly linked to duties, human rights of many individuals and groups will be abrogated in the mainstream discourse.
Jammu, an unofficial capital of refugees in India, has the population of over 17 lakh residing in various camps. Although all the five categories of migrants living in these camps have their own miseries, the worst affected among them are the West Pak refugees, a section of Hindus who came from districts of the erstwhile Punjab at the time of Partition. They are denied the fundamental citizenship rights for the last 66 years. No caste based rights group talk about these refugees even though 75 per cent of this population belongs to the SC category. Kashmiri pundits, who are forced to migrate from their homeland are more than 70 thousand families, do not figure in the rehabilitation policy, while such policy is derived for the surrendered terrorists with the Central Government funding.
The minority population of Buddhist-Hindus and Sikhs is the sufferer of the both Valley centric politics in Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism. Ladakh, the Buddhist dominated region, has been -at the receiving end both from Pakistan and China. As Kashmir Valley is the centre of politics for all the proponents of human rights, voices of Jammu and Ladakh regions are crushed.
The people from Pak occupied Jammu and Kashmir (POJK) are terribly affected by human rights violations. Technically, they are Indian citizens but practically under the control of Pakistan. They have neither any political nor any social or economic rights. People living along with LAC, LOC and International Borders have been facing violations with frequent skirmishes on the border. Many of them are living with bullets. War (1956-71) displaced persons of Chamb region are still waiting for some help from humanist quarters. Unfortunately, the real soldiers on the front have no takers in human rights discussion.
Bangladeshi Hindus, who after getting second class treatment on the other side of the border, migrated to India. Their Muslim counterparts who enter illegally in India get first class treatment as a vote-bank but Bangladeshi Hindus are living in camps without any legal documents.
Gilgit Baltistan is the last illegal colony of the world. These nationalist people are fighting against the illegal occupation of the strategically vital region by Pakistan. Their tribal identity and culture is more in tune with India. The supporters of rights do not consider them humans.
There are many such groups in India whose rights are hardly talked about. No human rights watch or commission takes cognisance of their plight. This is happening mainly because human rights discourse is monopolised by the so-called Leftist /and secularist brigade in India. They want to be humanists without being nationalist. In many cases, human rights in India are subject to the vote-bank dynamics or funding of the external rights agencies. As the real Gandhi rightly remarked while responding on the universality of rights, unless there are corresponding duties that are to be performed, rights are bound to be manipulated.