NEW DELHI: Amnesty International has given a critical view of India in upholding human rights, saying hate crimes against religious minorities and Dalits had “intensified” in the country.
Rising Islamophobia, lynching of Muslims, atrocities against Dalits, threat to freedom of expression and killing of journalists have been the major contributors to human rights abuses, Amnesty’s annual human rights report for 2017-2018 said.
The report, released on Thursday, said authorities were using laws to stifle freedom of expression and were openly critical of human rights defenders, contributing to a climate of hostility and violence against them.
“Repressive laws were used to stifle freedom of expression, and journalists and press freedom came under increasing attack,” the report stated, citing the examples of slain journalists Gauri Lankesh and Shantanu Bhowmick.
Alleging inaction on the government’s part in dealing with crimes against minorities, the report said, “In India, dozens of hate crimes against Muslims took place across the country against the backdrop of a wave of Islamophobia under the Hindu nationalist government.
“At least ten Muslim men were lynched and many injured by vigilante cow protection groups, many of which seemed to operate with the support of members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Some arrests were made, but no convictions were reported.”
The report said the government had refused to renew the foreign funding licence of People’s Watch because the NGO allegedly portrayed India’s human rights in a “negative light internationally”. It also mentioned the displacement of tribals owing to industrialisation as another issue of human rights violation.
A BJP politician, who did not wish to be named, said, “People from outside write whatever they want. They do not understand the ground situation here. With such a diverse cultural country, some stray incidents are bound to occur. To term this as deterioration of human rights is wrong.”
Congress and AAP leaders said the report only reiterated what they had been saying since the BJP came to power in 2014. Jai Mrug of Voter Mood Research said, “Every international report which comes out is saying the same thing. It is time for the government to open its eyes.”
The report added that India had failed to respect its commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Asmita Basu, Programmes Director of Amnesty International India said, “The Indian government has to take these forms of violence much more seriously. These are egregious crimes.”
A HARD LOOK
Authorities are openly critical of human rights defenders, contributing to a climate of hostility and violence against them
Religious minority groups, particularly Muslims, faced increasing demonization by hardline Hindu groups, pro-government media and some state officials
Demonstrations against attacks on Muslims were held in several cities, but the government did little to show that it disapproved of the violence
Over 40,000 crimes against Scheduled Castes were reported in 2016