India Indian Government's Policies, Actions Target Minorities: Human Rights Watch

Indian Government’s Policies, Actions Target Minorities: Human Rights Watch

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Indian government of systematically discriminating against Muslims and stigmatizing critics of the government, in its latest report.

The report was released on 19th February, two days ahead of the first anniversary of communal violence that took place in Northeast Delhi. Around 53 people were killed, out of whom 40 were Muslims.

The said violence took place amid protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) introduced by the Central Government which questions the citizenship of the Muslim population of the country. The proposed law also promises to grant citizenship to minorities of six neighboring countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who immigrated to India before 2014.

The report voiced for serious investigation to reveal identities behind the incitement of violence that took place in Delhi.

“Instead of conducting a credible and impartial investigation, including allegation that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leaders incited violence and police officials were complicit in attacks, the authorities have targeted activists and protest organizers”, the report stated.

Highlighting the ongoing farmers’ protests the report asserted that the Indian Government is not paying any heed to another mass protest and is branding minority Sikh protestors as ‘separatists’. This is, again, vilification of another religious minority in the Country.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has not only failed to protect Muslims and other minorities from attack but is providing political patronage and cover for bigotry”, Meenakshi Ganguly, Director, South Asia, HRW said in the report.

The report further said that anti CAA protests were peacefully carried out by ‘Indians’ of all faiths but BJP leaders constantly attempted to brand the protests as a conspiracy against national interests. They also tried to vilify the struggle of Indian Muslims.

Talking about violent clashes that happened during the tractor rally organized by farmers on January 26, the report alleged that police filed baseless criminal cases against journalists. The report also said that the authorities ordered an internet shutdown and ordered Twitter to suspend social media accounts of social activists and news organizations.

“Since Modi came to power in 2014, various legislative and other actions have been taken, legitimizing discrimination against religious minorities and enabling Hindu Nationalism”, stated HRW report.

Underlining the provisions of the Indian Constitution about the responsibility of the State to protect its religious minorities the report said, “These actions violate domestic law and India’s obligations under International Human Rights law that prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, gender, and ethnicity. It also requires that the government equal protection of law to each of its citizens. The government is also obligated to conduct fair and full prosecution and investigation against those responsible for violence”.

While making a mention of Kashmir, the report said “The government continues to clamp down on journalists and human rights activists, including bringing politically motivated charges of terrorism under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and using counterterrorism operations to harass and intimidate them.”

“The Indian government is also obligated to protect religious and other minority populations, and to fully and fairly prosecute those responsible for discrimination and violence against them”, Human Rights Watch said in the report.

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