19 Oct :The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has advised newspersons to pay more attention on burning issues like deaths due to malnutrition and problems of the poor rather than to the cases relating to encounters and custodial deaths.
The rights body Chairman Justice S Rajendra Babu said ensuring protection of rights of economically deprived and underprivileged sections needed a bigger focus than highlighting a few cases of encounters and custodial deaths.
"You give so much importance to encounters and custodial deaths. Please do not give so much importance to these. It is a small percentage so far as the entire country is concerned," Babu told a news agency.
His comments came when asked about the Commission’s view on a spate of encounters, including the one in south Delhi’s Jamia Nagar where two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed, and custodial deaths in the country.
"There are bigger issues. We must protect poor people, the people who are starving. It is these people whose rights have to be protected," he said.
Identifying malnutrition deaths as an important issue, he said 50 per cent of the people in the country die of malnutrition.
"Fifty per cent of the people in this country die of malnutrition. Large number of children are suffering from malnutrition. This is an important issue. It is a larger issue," he said.
Babu also underlined the need for vigorous effort to protect the poor section of the society."Who is the person who is in need of protection. That person who comes in contact with bombs, that person who is not socially empowered, economically empowered," Babu said.
"It is only these people whose rights have to be protected. Those who are in distress, those who are in difficulties, their rights have to be protected. They come into conflict with the powerful people," he said.
Babu said the Commission is overburdened with cases as on an average one lakh cases are filed with the Commission per year."When I came newly to this place in 2007, there were hardly 63,000 cases being filed per year. After six months of my assuming office, it shot up and by the end of the year it crossed one lakh," he said.
Babu said 20 per cent of the cases filed with the Commission remain unsolved as at times departments concerned do not cooperate "fully"."Twenty per cent cases that are filed remained over for various reasons. Because we do not get information from the departments, they do not cooperate fully" Babu said.
Asked about functioning of various State Human Rights Commissions, he evaded a direct reply saying NHRC has no control over them.
"We do not have any control over them. We do not look to their working. How they function and all. But people who are not satisfied with them come to us," he said.