Cases registered against the Indian arm of Amnesty International are unfortunate, to say the least. Even worse is the use of the law of sedition which should not actually be in the statute book as it is of British vintage and easily expendable. Also reprehensible is the protest march of a student organisation and the violent methods it chose. What upset both the government and a section of the civil society was a programme Amnesty had organised in Bengaluru. The organisation had brought some families which faced rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir to narrate their stories to an invited audience. Short documentaries based on their experiences were also to be shown.
The charge of sedition was slapped as some persons attending the programme allegedly shouted anti-India slogans. The veracity of the charge has to be ascertained. Equally important is to find out whether the slogans were shouted with the connivance of the organisers. This needs to be mentioned in the context of what happened at Jawaharlal Nehru University where there was no conclusive proof that the students had shouted anti-India slogans though the students’ union president and some others were charged with sedition. In short, the police have to sift fact from fiction. On the other hand, the point that Amnesty is selective cannot be gainsaid. True, there have been rights violations in Kashmir. But, what is overlooked is that the security forces are also human beings who have families to take care of. When they are relentlessly attacked with stones, bombs and bullets, they also use reflex action and retaliate.
There are many innocent people caught in the crossfire whose rights are also violated. But Amnesty chooses to protest only against state agencies while turning a blind eye to non-state actors, who enjoy support from across the border and are the worst offenders of human rights. No wonder its double standards fuel protests and raise suspicions.