By Asghar Ali Mubarak
ISLAMABAD: Eight human rights bodies in their unanimous statement has demanded of the European Union leaders to raise the fast-deteriorating human rights situation in India during their scheduled summit with the Indian leaders on May 8 in Portugal.
“The European leaders should press the Indian government to reverse its abusive and discriminatory policies and immediately release all human rights defenders and other critics who have been jailed for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” an umbrella of six human rights bodies said unanimously in a press statement released by Human Rights Watch.
These organizations included Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Front Line Defenders (FLD), Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). “Despite the considerable deterioration in the country’s human rights record under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government had effectively shielded itself from the international scrutiny and reactions that the seriousness of the situation should have warranted,” the statement said.
These organizations said that the Indian govt also ignored calls from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views” to prevent the growing rates of infection everywhere, including in closed facilities such as prisons and detention centers.
Instead, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led govt had increasingly harassed, intimidated, and arbitrarily arrested human rights defenders, journalists, peaceful protesters, and other critics, under draconian sedition and counterterrorism laws, it said. The groups noted with concerns that the Indian authorities had also enacted discriminatory laws and policies against minorities.
“Muslim and Dalit communities face growing attacks, while authorities fail to take action against BJP leaders who vilify minority communities and BJP supporters who engage in violence.
The Indian government has imposed harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslim-majority areas in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir since revoking the state’s constitutional status in August 2019 and splitting it into two federally governed territories.”