New Delhi: Questioning the rationale of continuing with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Human Rights Commission has said the government itself has noted that the country does not face any armed conflict situations.

The NHRC observation came in its Second Universal Periodic Review of human rights in the country.

"The AFSPA remains in force in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern States, conferring an impunity that often leads to the violation of human rights.

"This, despite the fact that India's 2011 report on the Optional Protocol to the Convention of Rights of Child (CRC) states that India does not face either international or non international armed conflict situations," the NHRC report said.

The continuance of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir has kicked up a row with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah pushing for its revocation. In Manipur, Irom Sharmila is on a fast for the past over ten years demanding revocation of the Act, dubbed "draconian" by activists.

On the Naxal movement, it said the spread of this violent Left-wing extremist movement is a cautionary tale.

"Estimates are that 200 out of the 600 districts in India are affected, though the government puts the figure at around 60 districts; even so this means that perhaps 120 million people are affected," it said.

Belatedly, the government is trying to bring the fruits of development to these areas, but the violent opposition of the Naxals, who destroy even schools and attack officials, means that in the areas they control, human rights have become even more parlous, it said.

"It will be an immense challenge for a democracy to defeat a movement that respects no human rights, through means that safeguard and do not violate the rights of the citizens it must protect." The NHRC report also criticised the Prevention of Torture Bill, passed by the Lower House of Parliament. The Bill has been greatly strengthened by a Select Committee of the Upper House, and it would be a "travesty" if the original Bill is adopted.

"The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes remain particularly vulnerable despite laws to protect them, because of the indifference of public servants," it said.

Noting that "custodial justice" remained a problem, the report said jails are overcrowded and unhygienic, disease rampant and treatment poor.

"Sixty-seven percent of prisoners are under trial, either unable to raise bail or confined far longer than they should be because of the huge backlog of cases. There are inordinate delays in the provision of justice. 56,383 cases were pending in the Supreme Court at the end of October 2011," the report said.

It also said government's contention that ambitious flagship programmes will provide rights to people remains "precarious" and rued a massive public distribution system has not assured the right to food because malnutrition is endemic.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme guaranteed 100 days of work a year to any rural household that needed it. Government data showed that 56 million households applied, 55 million were given work but on average received half the wages guaranteed.

"The scheme has not, therefore, made enough of an impact, very large sums of money have been siphoned off, and it does not provide long-term employment or build permanent assets," the report said.

It said the quality of education, particularly in the villages, is dismal, the infrastructure is appalling, teachers are absent, para-teachers are poorly trained. Learning levels and literacy are both very low.

(Agencies)