By Aditya Aamir
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is a man the cows love and human beings love to dislike. In Khattar’s world, cows have more rights than human beings. And that is a fact he displays with word and deed. All 16 posts in the Gau Sewa Aayog have been filled while the Haryana Human Rights Commission has been headless for 19 months.
If Khattar has a favourite cow, nobody knows but it isn’t the headless HHRC. Khattar doesn’t seem to care, even if it is in the public domain that the rights of the Dalit, women and children, especially of the girl-child, are trampled frequently and with ease in Khattar’s state.
No wonder there is a backlog of 2,205 cases of human rights violations pending in the Haryana Human Rights Commission.
HHRC was constituted five-and-a-half years ago by the Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Apart from the chairperson’s post, two other top HHRC posts have had no human faces for five months.
Right to Information (RTI) is a wonderful tool. It forces governments to divulge secrets. Dark secrets. It was an RTI query that revealed that all the 16 posts in the state’s Gau Seva Aayog (Cow Welfare Commission) are ‘manned’.
This shows how sensitive Khattar is to cow-rights. His priority is the welfare of the cow. A Samalkha-based RTI activist got the Haryana government to spill/spell out the criminal neglect of the human being in Haryana. Of the 2,205 pending cases, 800 complaints were received in the last five months.
Apart from the 16 key HHRC posts, 34 of 83 other sanctioned posts were also lying vacant. Two registrars, one joint registrar, one assistant registrar and two special secretaries had to be appointed to ensure the smooth functioning of the HHRC.
But does Khattar even hear the urgency, much less act urgently? The HHRC budget has increased but work stands stalled. When constituted in 2012, HHRC’s annual budget was Rs 2.5 crore. In fiscal 2017-18, the budget was Rs 6.5 crore! However, the RTI activist lamented that with the posts of chairperson and two panel members lying vacant, funds sanctioned would end up getting wasted.
The RTI activist wants the President of India and the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and restore normalcy in HHRC. The last HHRC chairman was ex-chief justice of Punjab and Haryana high court, Vijendra Jain. He left on August 1, 2016. The last two members of the commission were Justice H.S. Bhalla and retired-IAS J S Ahlawat. They left on September 20, 2017.
Cases of crimes against Dalits, minorities, women and weaker sections of society are regularly reported in Haryana. During Khattar’s rule, close to 100 people have been killed by police/security forces, including during the Jat reservation agitation, the Dera Sacha Sauda confrontation and the Rampal ashram siege.
Many of the killings invited charges of human rights violations but in the absence of a functioning HHRC they have not been addressed. Instances of loot, arson and violence during the Jat agitation destroyed livelihoods and affected a large number of people.
As it stands, the nearly four crore people of Haryana have nobody to fight for their rights while cows are getting their rights protected, encouraging cow vigilantes to take their fight against cattle-traders, making even a single man leading a cow by the nose to the cattle-pen a target, secure in the knowledge Khattar has, by not constituting a full human rights panel, done his duty to the cow and the cow vigilante.
So, who elects a political party to power, human beings or cows? With the Central government all set to Aadhaar cows/cattle, Khattar will get the hooves to stow human rights into the Haryana dirt. True, it won’t be Guantanamo Bay, but… (IPA Service)