New Delhi: Terming Naxalism as a "very
complex" issue, Justice K G Balakrishnan, who took over as the
chairman of NHRC on Monday, said "due consideration" should also
be given to rights of security personnel engaged in fighting
"Members of police force, enforcement agencies are also
human beings. Their life is also precious. Just like ordinary
persons, they also have to be given due consideration... a
large number of security persons are dying," he told reporters
after assuming charge of the rights body.
He was asked about the human rights of police personnel
as well as tribals living in Naxal zones.
Indicating that the problem of Naxalism was linked to
development, he said "tribals, locals, those who are residing
in the locality, they are denied education...there are no
hospitals, no roads...and there are so many things. It is not
a simple issue...it is a very very complex issue."
Balakrishnan recalled a recent statement by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh that 200 districts in the country are
affected by Naxalism.
Balakrishnan, who remained guarded in answering questions
on mercy petitions, khap panchayats and today`s verdict on
Bhopal gas tragedy, refuted suggestions that the National
Human Rights Commission lacked powers.
"NHRC is a highly prestigious organisation...I don`t
think NHRC lacks tooth and nail," he said in reply to a
Refusing to comment on whether the court verdict on
Bhopal gas tragedy was "too less and too late", he said he
could not speak on a judgement.
But at the same time he noted that if the quantum of
punishment was less, the aggrieved party can move a review
petition as per law. "Less punishment is also a ground for
appeal," he said.
He said the "positive fallout" of the gas tragedy was
that the Environment Protection Act became active after the
The new NHRC chief said several hospitals were still
functioning to treat the victims of the gas leak.
On honour killings, he only said a "killing is a killing"
and refused to get drawn further into the controversy.
Asked whether there should be a timeline for the
government to act on mercy petitions of people on death row,
he said, "There is no time fixed to consider mercy petition
Asked whether it was human rights violation to keep a
convict waiting for disposal of his mercy petition, he said in
a lighter vein that "they are living, so you want to execute
them immediately...so is there no human rights violation (in