Paper Code: RA-GD-18
Page Number: 331 - 337
Date of Publication: February 10, 2021
Citation: Dr. Gautami Dutta, Human Rights Crisis against IDPs in Assam: Issues and Challenges, 1, AIJACLA, 331, 331-337, (2021), https://www.aequivic.in/post/aijacla-human-rights-crises-amongst-idps-in-assam-issues-and-challenges.
Details Of Author(s):
Dr. Gautomi Dutta, Principal, Dr. R.K.B. Law College, Dibrugarh
ABSTRACT The IDPs i.e., Internally Displaced Persons residing in various relief camps of different districts of Assam constitute one of the most marginalized sections of the contemporary Assamese society. They are victims of armed conflict and ethnic violence in the western part of Assam. The story of suffering and atrocities against the IDPs started with displacement from their home or native place, which turned worse in the relief camps. Inmates of relief camps lead a life that is far away from the basic humanitarian needs. Internally displaced women and girls remain exposed to sexual and gender-based violence. There is no specific international document for the protection of IDPs. As the IDPs fall under the sovereignty of their government and as such, they are entitled to full protection under the domestic law and enjoyment of rights as that of other nationals. But, in practice, the Government of any country, not exempting the Government of India has always been reluctant to provide equal treatment to this marginalized section of the society as that of other nationals. So, the main objectives of this research paper are- To provide a theoretical analysis of human rights crises amongst IDPs in Assam and To search for a legal mechanism for the protection of their rights. KEYWORDS Internally Displaced Persons, Human Rights, Legal Mechanism
INTRODUCTION According to the UN Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), “IDPs means persons or group of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or to avoid the effect of armed conflict, situation generalized violence, violation of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.” They are refugees within their states. Such displaced persons have always been experiencing a high degree of alienation, marginalization, and exclusion from the larger section of the society. They always remain out of the public ‘consciousness’ and ‘imagination’. During displacement, they are forced to suffer from enormous loss of resources that are necessary for survival. Many times, they are forced to remain in the strife-torn areas where they do not have proper access to adequate food, clean drinking water, and medical supplies. Their business and social arrangement get demolished because of uprooting. The privilege to life, property, security, food, training, and work is threatened. Here arise the concerns for basic liberties, care, security, and equity for the IDPs. The object of the paper is to analyze human rights crises among the conflict-induced internally displaced persons in Assam and thereby to search for legal mechanisms to resolve their problems. The scholar throughout the research paper has adopted the doctrinal method and used only the secondary sources such as books, research articles, newspapers, journals, etc., and also taken resort to need base manner.
INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT IN ASSAM The problem of IDPs in Assam is caused mainly by man-made disasters. Ethnic clashes over territorial issues, insurgency against the Government of India for a separate homeland, and communal violence among Assamese against “foreigners” have led to widespread displacement in Assam. However, the State also suffers from all the three categories of IDPs as provided in the UN Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons namely, environment, conflict, and development-induced displacement in the entire region. Some of the major incidents responsible for creating a large number of conflict-induced IDPs in Assam are-
Assam movement: After the end of British Imperial Rule, the migration of individuals from the then East Pakistan took a perilous stand in prompting the Assam Movement that began to counter outsiders as enemies of local identities tumult drove by All Assam Students Union (ASSU) and prevailing Asomiyas. A huge number of Bengali, both Hindu and Muslim were brutally uprooted all over Assam during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Identity-based autonomy movement by the Bodos: ‘Cleansing’ of non-Bodo communities by the Bodos, the largest plain tribe in Assam, through plunder, arson, massacre, and persecution, in the Bodo Autonomous Council area of western Assam, has forced a large number of non- Bodos to flee. They now live in relief camps.
Ethnic conflicts: The Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills regions have been the principal scenes of ethnic savagery throughout the most recent couple of years. A large number of regular citizens have been uprooted, primarily because of the clashes between Karbi, Kuki, Khasi, Hmar, and Dimasa outfitted gatherings. In 2003, 75,000 individuals were uprooted, fundamentally because of conflicts between equipped outfits from the Hmar and Dimasa, the Karbi and Kuki, and the Karbi and Khasi groups.
Violence against seasonal workers: Another significant occurrence of internal displacement took place in November 2003 because of the brutality against the Hindi speaking population basically from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The contention was set off by a row over job and torture of Assamese individuals in Bihar; immediately spreading the savagery from the capital city of Guwahati to territories in upper Assam. There is no gauge of the number of individuals who turned out to be internally displaced inside the state, yet approximately 18,000 fled to around 40 camps in and outside Assam. Even though contentions consistently dislodge individuals in Assam, no official gauge of numbers exists, and in this manner the specific number of uprooted individuals due to such conflicts is obscure. According to data accumulated by the Asian Center for Human Rights from 85 help camps in four locales of Assam i.e., Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Udalguri, and Chirang, there were 3,00,273 uprooted people sheltered in these camps as of 27 December 2014. ACHR group found the camps are packed and need essential services. Sanitation facilities and cleanliness are practically non-existent. The mature, youngsters, and handicapped residents of the help camps are suffering due to insufficient health and clinical mediations. Ladies are compelled to bargain with pride and protection because of the absence of sanitary facilities. The camps are a significant source for selling women to different parts of India.
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE To date, the problem of internally displaced persons has not been addressed properly either under the international or domestic laws of India. While a multilateral treaty exists for the protection of refugees namely the Convention relating to Status of Refugee, 1951 and its 1976 Protocol along with a mandate of a specialized international institution, i.e., United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR), the status of IDPs remains in flux. The only international framework for the protection of IDPs is the UN Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons which consists of 30 Guiding Principles outlining protections for IDPs. The Principles prescribe the rights and guarantees relevant to the protection of IDPs from forced displacement, their protection, and assistance during displacement up to the achievement of a desirable solution. These Principles are consistent with the relevant International Human rights, International Humanitarian Laws, and Refugee Law by analogy. Principle 6 says that IDPs have a right to be protected against arbitrary displacement. Where displacement is unavoidable, a guarantee should be put in place to minimize its effect (Principle 7). Moreover, displacement should never occur in a manner that violates the rights to life, dignity, liberty, and security (Principle 8). However, the Guiding Principles on IDPs are not binding legal instruments. Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 has endorsed the laws relevant in a non-international armed conflict. Article 17 of the Protocol denies restrictions in the forced displacements of citizens from any nation on account of the conflicts, regardless of whether displacements must be done or not, State will take all potential measures so that non-military personnel populace might get good shelter, cleanliness, wellbeing, security, and nourishment. Clause 2 of the Article says that regular people will not be constrained to leave their domain for reasons associated with the conflicts. Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 has prescribed the laws applicable in a non-international armed conflict. Article 17 of the Protocol prohibits forced movements of civilians because of the reason of conflict. Even if displacements have to be carried out, states shall take all possible measures so that the civilian population may be received under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety, and nutrition. Clause 2 of the Article says that civilians shall not be compelled to leave their territory for reasons connected with the conflict. The Rome Statute of 1998 by which the International Criminal Court has been established, criminalizes “deportation or forcible transfer of population” within and beyond a border as a crime against humanity and a war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) and Article 7(1)(d) respectively. Besides all these, IDPs can seek protection under Human Rights Law via the UDHR, the ICCPR, and the ICES. Other international human rights treaties relevant to IDP protection and assistance include the CEDAW and the UNCRC.
NATIONAL RESPONSE On matters related to IDPs, India still suffers from a lack of a proper legal framework to regulate such affairs. As such, there is no national policy and legal institutional framework in India to deal with conflict-induced IDPs. The National Relief and Rehabilitation Policy 2007 deals with provisions for rehabilitating people displaced as a consequence of developmental projects, but it failed to recognize the issues of conflict-induced displacement. Additionally, the Government of India has not ratified the UN Guiding Principles on IDPs, the Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions, and the Rome Statute of 1998 considering the provisions of such documents as an infringement on national sovereignty. An analysis of the responsibility of the Central Government under other international instruments such as UDHR, ICCPR, ICESCR, CEDAW, etc. to which India has been a state party, shows that the Government of India must take a step to prevent forced eviction and to provide adequate compensation in cases where forced eviction had occurred. Rights provided in these international documents to different sections of the society have been made available to its citizens by the Government of India through Constitution and other laws. But no step has been adopted to date to make the enjoyment of the same rights available to the internally displaced persons. Even the Government has not conducted any survey in conflict-affected areas to document the internally displaced and their specific need. In India, the State Governments are allotted the primary obligation to help and restore the dislodged, yet practical developments for a concerning result differ fundamentally from State to State. Simultaneously, without the bureaucratic affirmation of the presence of IDPs in India, the State Governments for the most part express their hesitance to alter their reactions and legitimize the measure of protection and shelter given to such IDPs. Especially, in the case of Assam, the public authority has set significance on dealing with strife circumstance over giving rights to IDPs. Importance has been given to the restoration of extremist gatherings instead of IDPs. The reactions of the Government of Assam towards the IDPs are commonly kept to the development of stopgap impermanent alleviation camps without further ado following brutality, the arrangement of Gratuitous Relief (GR) of rice, lentils, and oil until these camps started the type of perpetual structures, and the end of GR trying to compel individuals from the camps to search for their type of rehabilitation. Some of the time, the suspicions that IDPs are engaged with executing savagery is utilized as a support for not giving shelter to the victims by the state government. With the nonappearance of a public structure for the shelter of IDPs and the nearby checking of common liberties, state governments are probably going to keep on reacting to IDP needs in powerless, unacceptable, and shifted habits profoundly subject to political plan and interests. In November 2011, the IDMC (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, Geneva) and The NRCC (Norwegian Refugee Council) distributed a report on the IDPs of NE India and Assam. The report gave various proposals to the Government of India and State Governments of North-East. It suggested the institution of enactment in India as per UN Guidelines. The report additionally prescribed the Union Government to formulate a watch body, for example, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Women (NCW), and National Commission for Minorities (NCM), and so on to administer the issues of IDPs. Simultaneously, the report has especially prescribed to the Assam Government to deliberately evaluate the circumstances of Adivasis, Bodos, Muslims, and others dislodged by brutality during 1990 to 2000 and decide the number of individuals living in uprooting and their particular requirements. It requested that the Assam Government offer satisfactory help to the dislodged by their need, which ought to explicitly incorporate lodging and work help just as schooling and ability preparing. Be that as it may, nothing has appeared up until now.
CONCLUSION There is, thus, an urgent need for national authority in India to conduct surveys in conflict-affected areas to determine the number of internally displaced and their specific needs. Immediate steps must be taken by the Government of India to frame a national policy for the protection and rehabilitation of IDPs without any possible discrimination. The UN Guiding Principles can be used in the development of a national legal or policy framework. The Guiding Principles can also guide the government in framing assessment and monitoring activities as well as promoting and protecting the rights of IDPs. The Guiding Principles can likewise be utilized to recognize the different areas and weak gatherings about which explicit information should be gathered to guarantee focused and effective help is given to the IDPs. Further, the adoption of effective steps for controlling the ongoing armed conflict and other ethnic violence in Assam will help in preventing the internal displacement of people in the future. In the meantime, the Government should adopt adequate steps to reduce the vulnerability of this marginalized section of the society and for their rehabilitation. The state as the custodian of the rights of all its citizens is bound to act responsively to settle the problem of IDPs. A reasonable command for public and state foundations to help and secure the IDPs just as improved information assortment would be the main way out towards building up an improved reaction to the displaced by worldwide norms.
 Aakash Chandran, ‘India and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),(Oct. 2020, 08, 09:40 AM),http://www.livelaw.in.  India: Large numbers of IDPs are unassisted and in need of protection, IDMC, (Oct. 2020, 19, 06:30 PM), http://www.IDMC_IND_UPR_S1_2008anx_OverviewMay07.pdf.  Ibid.  Mahendra P Lama, Internal Displacement in India: Causes, protection and Dilemmas, India and Guiding Principles, (Oct. 2020, 22, 09:45 AM), http://www.fmreview.org/sites/fmr/files/FMRdownloads/en/FMRpdfs/FMR08/fmr8.9.pdfin.  Monirul Hussain, State, Identity Movements and Internal Displacement in North-East, Economic and Political Weekly, December 16, 2000.  India: Assistance to IDPs remains inadequate, Report from Global IDP Project, 13 May 2005, (Oct. 2020, 30, 07:00 PM), http://reliefweb.int.