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Assam lawyer first spoke on govts launching wars against own people

By AJIT PATOWARY
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GUWAHATI, March 9 - A legal luminary from Assam demonstrated a rare prudence 48 years back, on categorising war crimes perpetrated by the governments against their own people and underlining the importance of the role of international agencies in such wars. Later on, the weight of his assertions was felt by humanity following similar developments in various parts of the globe, like in Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, etc.

The Indian lawyer had thus pioneered a new approach towards war and the responsibilities of international organisations in such wars.

In Belgrade, the then capital of Yugoslavia, it was the Late Dr Jagadish Medhi, then a leading lawyer from India, who had raised the issues concerning the governments launching wars against their own people and throwing millions of their countrymen out of their territories and the responsibility of the world community in upholding the rights of such people.

Medhi was bold also in questioning the ethics behind the business of arms. �Sale of arms is not as innocent as sale of girls� cosmetics,� he said, holding the big powers responsible for the conflagrations of war. �If we are to eliminate war, we must control the arms industries and sale of arms. We must also find out means to control the Big Powers. Abetment and aiding war is as much heinous as the war itself,� he said.

Medhi was speaking on behalf of India at the Fifth World Conference on World Peace through Law and World Assembly of Judges organised by the United Nations Organisation (UNO), held during July 21-31, 1971.

His assertions received accolades from the participants in that conference. A number of delegates from various countries met Medhi for further elucidation on these issues.

Medhi told the members of the World Peace Committee of the conference that rulers of a country can also impose wars on their countrymen, contrary to the belief that wars are fought only between two counties, or among several countries.

He complained that neither the above UN committee nor the learned participants of the conference had taken notice of the �recent happenings in certain parts of the world�.

Medhi referred to how the then military dictator of Pakistan had been waging a total war against the people of East Pakistan, which was then a part of Pakistan itself. He also spoke on how innocent and unarmed people of villages were bombed and machine-gunned from the air, how artilleries were opened on marketgoers. Besides, he said, an army of 70,000 personnel was let loose on unarmed people � to shoot men indiscriminately, to molest women and also to bayonet children to death.

Medhi narrated how village after village was burnt down, properties wantonly destroyed and looted and how around seven million people had to desperately run to their neighbouring country (India) to save themselves from the vicious onslaught of their own army, with nothing more than a few yards of cloth on their bodies to shield themselves from shame.

He maintained that the act of dumping seven millions of destitutes by one country into another was by itself an act of aggression. �It has happened to India today and it could happen to any country any day. A military dictator waged war against the country�s own people and India had to bear the cost.

�The UNO, if it is worth anything, is bound to take notice of these things and take responsibility. To ignore them, in the name of �domestic affairs�, would be a deception and demonstration of utter helplessness to these millions of people. UNO in that case would not exist,� said Medhi.

He maintained that India had taken care of those millions of people out of kindness. �If it was no obligation of any other country, it was no obligation of India. Who will take up their cause, take up their responsibility if not the international body?� he wondered.

Here, in his own State, Medhi�s speech was highlighted through a write-up in The Assam Tribune on August 14, 1971.

Today, the definition of war has also become broader. It has now included the war against terrorism too in its ambit. Again, the UN has become active in ensuring the human rights of those dispersed by government atrocities, like the Rohingya, the Congolese, etc.

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Assam lawyer first spoke on govts launching wars against own people

GUWAHATI, March 9 - A legal luminary from Assam demonstrated a rare prudence 48 years back, on categorising war crimes perpetrated by the governments against their own people and underlining the importance of the role of international agencies in such wars. Later on, the weight of his assertions was felt by humanity following similar developments in various parts of the globe, like in Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, etc.

The Indian lawyer had thus pioneered a new approach towards war and the responsibilities of international organisations in such wars.

In Belgrade, the then capital of Yugoslavia, it was the Late Dr Jagadish Medhi, then a leading lawyer from India, who had raised the issues concerning the governments launching wars against their own people and throwing millions of their countrymen out of their territories and the responsibility of the world community in upholding the rights of such people.

Medhi was bold also in questioning the ethics behind the business of arms. �Sale of arms is not as innocent as sale of girls� cosmetics,� he said, holding the big powers responsible for the conflagrations of war. �If we are to eliminate war, we must control the arms industries and sale of arms. We must also find out means to control the Big Powers. Abetment and aiding war is as much heinous as the war itself,� he said.

Medhi was speaking on behalf of India at the Fifth World Conference on World Peace through Law and World Assembly of Judges organised by the United Nations Organisation (UNO), held during July 21-31, 1971.

His assertions received accolades from the participants in that conference. A number of delegates from various countries met Medhi for further elucidation on these issues.

Medhi told the members of the World Peace Committee of the conference that rulers of a country can also impose wars on their countrymen, contrary to the belief that wars are fought only between two counties, or among several countries.

He complained that neither the above UN committee nor the learned participants of the conference had taken notice of the �recent happenings in certain parts of the world�.

Medhi referred to how the then military dictator of Pakistan had been waging a total war against the people of East Pakistan, which was then a part of Pakistan itself. He also spoke on how innocent and unarmed people of villages were bombed and machine-gunned from the air, how artilleries were opened on marketgoers. Besides, he said, an army of 70,000 personnel was let loose on unarmed people � to shoot men indiscriminately, to molest women and also to bayonet children to death.

Medhi narrated how village after village was burnt down, properties wantonly destroyed and looted and how around seven million people had to desperately run to their neighbouring country (India) to save themselves from the vicious onslaught of their own army, with nothing more than a few yards of cloth on their bodies to shield themselves from shame.

He maintained that the act of dumping seven millions of destitutes by one country into another was by itself an act of aggression. �It has happened to India today and it could happen to any country any day. A military dictator waged war against the country�s own people and India had to bear the cost.

�The UNO, if it is worth anything, is bound to take notice of these things and take responsibility. To ignore them, in the name of �domestic affairs�, would be a deception and demonstration of utter helplessness to these millions of people. UNO in that case would not exist,� said Medhi.

He maintained that India had taken care of those millions of people out of kindness. �If it was no obligation of any other country, it was no obligation of India. Who will take up their cause, take up their responsibility if not the international body?� he wondered.

Here, in his own State, Medhi�s speech was highlighted through a write-up in The Assam Tribune on August 14, 1971.

Today, the definition of war has also become broader. It has now included the war against terrorism too in its ambit. Again, the UN has become active in ensuring the human rights of those dispersed by government atrocities, like the Rohingya, the Congolese, etc.