Facing flak for not acknowledging that the killing of its men in the Sukma naxal attack was a “human rights violation”, the CRPF today tried to assuage the matter and said its response had been “misinterpreted”. It also said that the development painted the force in “bad light”.
The matter pertains to an RTI application filed by human rights activist Venkatesh Nayak seeking inquiry report in the April 24 Sukma attack wherein 25 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed in naxal attack. “I would like to obtain the following information…as prima facie, it pertains to allegations of violation of the right to life of CRPF personnel who were killed in the attack that occurred on April 24, 2017 in Sukma, Chhattisgarh,” the application stated.
“I believe this is a fit case for disclosure of information under the second proviso of section 24 of the RTI Act. Kindly obtain the approval of the Central Information Commission (CIC) prior to disclosing the information…,” it said. The force is exempted from making disclosures under the RTI Act, but the second proviso of Section 24(1) of the Act allows disclosure of information sought if it pertains to allegations of human right violations and corruption.
In order to disclose the information pertaining to the human rights violation, the force needs to refer the matter to the Central Information Commission. In response to the application, the CRPF, in addition to citing section 24(1) (which exempts it from the RTI Act) and security issues in the report had said there appeared to be no violations of human rights in the instant matter.
“In the instant matter, there appears to be no violations of human rights as well as the facts of the case do not attract allegations of corruption. Moreover, your application does not make any reference to such allegations. Hence, this department is not liable to provide any information in this regard to you under RTI Act, 2005,” it said. Finding itself in an embarrassing position after the ‘insensitive’ response, the CRPF issued a statement saying, “This RTI reply has been misinterpreted and the news item is contrary to facts and paints the force in a bad light.”
“This department has replied that security forces including CRPF are exempted to provide information, except those queries related to allegations of corruption/violation of human rights under Section 24(1) of RTI Act-2005,” it said. The force added it had categorically intimated the RTI applicant (Nayak) that the enquiry report contained various security and tactics related issues which cannot be shared under the RTI Act on the grounds that it might adversely affect the organisation’s strategic response.
The clarification by CRPF, however, was silent on its response which had stated, “in the instant matter, there appears to be no violations of Human Rights…”