April 4th is the UN’s international day for mine awareness and assistance in mine action. This day is about raising awareness about landmines and progress towards its eradication.
Landmines are explosive mines laid either on the land or just below the surface. This explodes by the presence, proximity or contact of a person causing incapacitation, injury or could kill. A mine remains active for decades after it has been laid hence it continues to injure and kill people even after the conflict has ended.
In 1966 the UN created the Mine Ban Treaty, despite voting in favour of the resolution; India remains one of the largest producers and stockpiles of the weapon. To precise India ranks third as the stockpile of anti-personnel landmines, with Russia and Pakistan being higher, as per the report of Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor.
These landmines are used along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir between Pakistan and India, though researchers claim that they are redundant in stopping the insurgency and infiltration. These minefields are laid along the border areas as part of military operation however no causalities of infiltrators have ever been reported by the government however it has resulted in deaths, disabilities and displacement of Indian citizens along the border particularly of the security personnel manning the border.
Yet India does not have a national mine action program. The report from the Monitor is anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines were laid over cultivated land and pasture, around infrastructure and around villages during the 2000-2001 standoff. The country also faces the issue of increased use of IED’s and mines by non-state armed groups in various parts of the country.
The army conducts significant clearance operations, as the country is extensively contaminated and mine-affected; however India has never reported annual expenditures towards it.
The Monitor is a de-facto monitoring regime of the 1997 Mine Ban Treat which is a legally binding international agreement that bans the use, production, stocking and transfer of antipersonnel mines. The Monitor places the onus on the countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy the stock. Antipersonnel mines have been globally condemned and banned as they are inherently indiscriminate in nature when it comes to destruction; this is against the basic principles of Humanitarian Laws.
The Monitor researchers maintain that despite of being a signatory at the UN General Assembly resolution, India chose to remain outside it when the treaty actually came into existence in 1996. India has instead chosen to be part of optional protocol to The Convention of Conventional Weapons also known as CCW which regulated the antipersonnel landmine use and does not ban it. As per which India files an annual article 13 transparency report with CCW regarding the protocol status, for the past 12yrs however the report has been rather empty with a statement that says nothing has changed.
The monitor identifies India along with Pakistan, South Korea and Myanmar as active produces of landmines.