Indian Army using civilians as human shielding as a method of warfare

Indian Army using civilians as human shielding as a method of warfare
Highlights

Hon’ble Justice P. Naveen Rao pronounced his judgment in the matter of PIL No 62 and 82 of 2014, & W.P No 5772, 5782 and 11321 of 2014 that the security threat to Indian Army’s establishments is more grave and serious as per the intelligence inputs placed before the Court

Hon’ble Justice P. Naveen Rao pronounced his judgment in the matter of PIL No 62 and 82 of 2014, & W.P No 5772, 5782 and 11321 of 2014 that the security threat to Indian Army’s establishments is more grave and serious as per the intelligence inputs placed before the Court (Paragraph 54).

Sri Vishnuverdhan Reddy, Assistant Solicitor General, representing Union of India made elaborate submissions before the Hon’ble Justice P. Naveen Rao in the above matter that the terrorist carry out regularly attacks on security forces in Jammu Kashmir and Assam. As per the inputs from the security agencies, there is imminent security threat in Hyderabad (paragraph 26).

Based on intelligence inputs more than 12 roads in the Yapral/Bolarum and AOC Centre areas in Secunderabad Cantonment have already been closed 24x7. Another 4 roads – Entrenchment Road, Wellington Road, Ordnance Road and Gough Road, have night restrictions on them. By closing the public roads the Army is fully insulated from terrorist’s attacks but exposed the civilian to such attacks as the densely populated civilian areas shall act as Army’s human fortress. Since the terrorists to the conflict adopt means of injuring the Indian Army is not unlimited, they shall go all out in their operations to the destruction of the military resources, and shall not leave even the civilian population outside the sphere of armed attacks. In the history of any terrorist’s attack mainly civilian only were the victims.

Further, it is very apparent that Indian Army, confronted with overwhelming technological superiority (collapse of twin towers of world trade center in New York & serial bombing in London buses) used by terrorist organizations, need to deploy some proven tactics as a “method of warfare” designed to counter terrorists’ attacks against which Indian Army cannot effectively defend using the weaponry and forces at their disposal.

Therefore the question arises: Is the Indian Army using civilians as human shielding as a method of warfare? Human Shielding is a military and political term describing the placement of non-combatants in or around combat targets to deter the enemy from attacking these combat targets.

If one looks at the history, as an example, Human Shielding occurred, for example, in both the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. After World War II, it was claimed by German to set up camps in large German cities, to act as human shields against their bombing raids. Wehrmacht and later SS forces extensively used Polish civilians as human shields during Warsaw Uprising when attacking the insurgents' positions.

During the Battle of Okinawa, Japanese soldiers often used civilians as human shields against American troops. When the Japanese were concerned about the incoming Allied air raids on their home islands, they scattered major military installations and factories throughout urban areas, therefore, historians argued that Japan was using its civilians as human shields to protect their legitimate military targets against Allied bombardment.

One of the most famous uses of human shields occurred in Iraq in 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that precipitated the Gulf War of 1990-1991. In 1991, during the operations in the Gulf War, the U.S. submitted a report to the UN Security Council denouncing Iraq for having “intentionally placed civilians at risk through its behavior”.

The use of human shields has long violated international humanitarian law. Using this technique is illegal by nations that are parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, and the 1998 Rome Statute.

In the body of contemporary humanitarian law applicable during any conflict, Additional Protocol I of 1977, Article 51(7), provides the broadest and most specific proscription:

The presence or movement of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations. The Article 58 of Additional Protocol I further provides that Indian Army must avoid “locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas”.

Article 51(7) is a corollary to Article 48, the general rule of distinction between combatants and military objectives on the one hand and civilians and civilian objects on the other, as well as Article 51(1), which provides that “the civilian population and individuals civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations”.

Rather than violating 1) International Humanitarian Law, 2) International Commission for red Cross Rules, 3) the Article 19 & 246 of our Constitution & 4) the Articles 2, 3 & 13 of Human Rights, Indian Army must remove & relocate immediately all its military installations away from the densely populated civilian areas & provide complete protection to civilians from any dangers arising from its conflict with terrorists.

Under the provision of our Constitution the local state government has a duty and responsibility to protect citizens living within its territory and therefore the Telengana state government must resolve the issue on a priority basis to avert any loss of civilian life due to terrorist’s attack in Secunderabad.

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