Indira Bhavan to house offices of probe panels
- Cong backs Lanka probe,govt abstains at UNHRC SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, MARCH 27 A day after the Congress called for an inquiry into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka during the war with the LTTE, the UPA government did the opposite: India abstained on the Sri Lanka resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva. An international probe into the alleged abuses was an âintrusive approachâ that undermined Sri Lankaâs ânational sovereigntyâ, India said. New Delhiâs abstention did not come in the way of the UNHRCâs adoption of the US-sponsored resolution, which was passed by 23 votes to 12, with 12 abstentions. The resolution asked the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to investigate alleged abuses âduring the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commissionâ (between 2002 and 2009). The Congress manifesto, released on Wednesday by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, said, âWe will work with other countries to prevail upon Sri Lanka to ensure a credible, objective, time-bound inquiry into allegations of human rights violations and excesses committed by the Sri Lankan forces during the concluding phases of the operations against the LTTE.â Asked about Indiaâs vote, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, âYes, we have voted differently as this resolution is very different from previous resolutions on Sri Lanka. Unlike the resolutions in 2009, 2012 and 2013, this resolution imposes an international investigative mechanism. This is an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty.â The spokesperson said that as a close neighbour, India could not remain untouched by the developments in Sri Lanka. âWhile significant steps have been taken, much more needs to be done by the Government of Sri Lanka.â He said that international efforts should aim to enable Sri Lanka to investigate the allegations of rights violations through a comprehensive, independent and credible national mechanism. âAn external investigative mechanism with an open-ended mandate to monitor national processes is not a constructive approach. In our view adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counterproductive,â Akbaruddin said. Sources in South Block said the resolution includes a series of prescriptive elements, which call for a national reparation policy, lay down guidelines on how truth-seeking processes should be designed, and who should be involved. It also stresses the responsibility of states to âprosecute those responsible for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, constituting crimes against international lawâ.
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After much controversy, the Trinamool Congress government has decided to convert Indira Bhavan at Salt Lake, where former chief minister Jyoti Basu resided for almost 20 years, into a full-fledged government office that will house the offices of four inquiry commissions.
The building, which was named after former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after she stayed here for a week in 1972 to attend the All India Congress Committee session, was planned to be renamed after poet Qazi Nazrul Islam by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who wanted to set up an academy for research and studies on the poet. However, following public outcry and vehement protests from the Congress, then its ally, the Trinamool government shelved the plan and decided to set up Nazrul Bhavan at Rajarhat.
"We do not call it as Indira Bhavan. It is just a state government guest house. And yes, it is going to be a government office as the offices of the four inquiry commissions are going to be shifted there,'' Debasish Sen, principal secretary of Urban Development Department, told The Indian Express.
The four commissions, whose offices are going to be set up here, are the one probing Cossipore massacre of 1971 headed by Justice (retd) Asit Kumar Bish, the Justice (retd) Nikhil Bhattacharya commission probing the death of 23 tribals who took part in a rally to celebrate Hool at Chandrokona in West Midnapore district in 1999, the commission investigating the massacre of 17 Anandamargis on Bijon Setu in South Kolkata in 1982 headed by Justice (retd) Santosh Kumar Faujdar and the one probing Rajarhat land scam headed by Justice (retd) Ramendra Narayan Roy.
The commissions will begin functioning from Indira Bhavan from December 1.
After Mamata came to power, she has set up nine judicial commissions to inquire various incidents that took place in the state between 1971 and 2011. The offices of other commissions are housed at Council House Street.
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