World Must Confront India’s Human Rights Record – World Peace Organization
India has seen a sharp rise in human rights abuses against its citizens, which the international community has so far refused to address. Regardless of its growing military and economic power, India must be held accountable if the rule of law and the current human rights regime are to be universally respected.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, in power since 2014, has oversaw a systematic attack on human rights, including freedom of expression through the targeting of journalists. The government used a colonial-era sedition law to curb all forms of dissent, with more than 400 complaints lodged against journalists, opposition politicians and academics since Modi came to power. India is now ranked 150e out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.
Three journalists were killed in 2020, including Shubham Mani Tripathi, whom unidentified assailants shot dead in Uttar Pradesh in response to his reporting on sand mining in the area. Isravel Moses was brutally macheted to death and Rakesh Singh died when his house was burned down.
This lack of journalistic security is particularly relevant in the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir, where press freedom has been under attack for some time. The Fahad Shah, editor of popular independent local news site Kashmir Walla, was arrested earlier this year under both the Sedition Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terrorism law, to cover alleged human rights abuses by the military. The authorities deliberately misuse the legislation to stifle anti-government sentiment.
India also leads the world in the number of internet shutdowns, with authorities using these shutdowns to prevent unrest and hamper the staging of protests. At the end of last year, Human Rights Watch estimated that there was 71 closures in 2021including 51 located in Jammu and Kashmir.
Authorities have used state-sanctioned violence to suppress minority groups, building on anti-dissent laws maintained or passed by the regime since Modi took power in 2014. authorities used the national security law to detain 76 people in Uttar Pradesh charged with cow slaughter, with the power to detain them for a year without charge. Additionally, at least 53 people were killed and 200 injured last year in Delhi when predominantly Hindu groups targeted Muslim communities in response to a peaceful protest against India’s discriminatory citizenship policies.
BJP leaders also made public statements vilifying minority groups, actively encouraging Hindu nationalist groups to use violence on behalf of the government. BJP supporters were implicated in communal and caste-based violence in Delhi and Maharashtra state in 2018. Dalit and Adivasis communities also continue to face abuse from the government and supporters of the BJP. According to Amnesty International, more than 50,000 crimes against caste and 8,272 against tribes were reported in 2020. These figures do not include cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women by upper-caste men, whose victims are also prevented from accessing public services. .
In most of these cases, police investigations and court hearings were reportedly biased and aimed at silencing any future dissent through delays and pro-government rulings.
The police actively failed to protect these groups when attacked. The police and justice systems were bolstered by the government’s nationalist and anti-minority ideology. In Jammu and Kashmir, there have been numerous allegations of torture and extrajudicial executions. The Indian National Human Rights Commission has recorded 143 deaths in police custody and 104 alleged extrajudicial executions in 2021. Authorities in the region are known to use the Code of Criminal Procedure to prevent police from being prosecuted over allegations of violence. In addition, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act grants security forces immunity from prosecution, including for human rights violations.
India has long been close to the United States due to its geopolitical location between Pakistan and China. India is also on track to become the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2025 and potentially the third-largest by 2030. So world leaders have been scrambling to ignore the surge in human rights abuses in the country in order to that they can continue to talk about it as a world leader. greater democracy.
The Biden regime may be pivoting in this regard. In April, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken says US monitors human rights abuses in India in what was widely seen as a rare rebuke from Washington. However, while this offers hope, more needs to be done to signal to the Indian government that human rights abuses are unacceptable.
Countries like the US, UK and Australia have already put in place measures to achieve this through the Magnitsky legislation, which allows governments to freeze assets and implement travel bans on people. people in other countries who are involved in human rights abuses. This means that countries can punish individuals without applying far-reaching government sanctions, allowing relationships to continue while expressing disapproval of rights violations.
The international community should also put pressure on the Indian government to “from words to deeds” on human rights. Currently, India is not a signatory to the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or the International Criminal Court. Therefore, it is vital that world leaders pressure the BJP to sign these agreements, both to show that the party is serious about its obligations and to protect those who are persecuted or attacked in India.
Finally, world leaders and foreign ministers must begin to speak out against India’s deteriorating human rights record. With India traditionally receiving a large share of foreign aid from the international community, making the release of such aid conditional on compliance with human rights obligations could be a powerful negotiating tool. While this tactic has the potential to be alienating, it can also convince the Indian government of the importance the world places on human rights.
The current human rights regime and the international rule of law remain humanity’s best hope for protecting the lives of minority groups, human rights activists and journalists. For India to continue to qualify as a functioning democracy on the world stage, it must respect the human rights of all its citizens in accordance with its obligations as a responsible international citizen. If it does not, it is up to the international community to hold the current government to account.