Freedom House Report Again Places India in ‘Partly Free’ Category


Amit Shah and Narendra Modi

The report cites persecution of minorities especially Muslims, imprisonment of activists and dissenters, introduction of ‘Love Jihad’ laws among others as reasons for the move.

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The Freedom House’s report continued to keep India’s rank as “partly free” citing the persecution of minorities especially Muslims, the imprisonment of activists and dissenters, the introduction of ‘Love Jihad’ laws and Lakhimpur Kheri incident where a Union minister’s son mowed agitating farmers under his vehicle.

Last year too, the report, prepared by a US government-funded NGO on political rights and civil liberties, had degraded the democratic status of India from “Free” to “Partly Free”.

This year’s report titled ‘The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule’ said, “freely elected leaders from Brazil to India have also taken or threatened a variety of antidemocratic actions, and the resulting breakdown in shared values among democracies has led to a weakening of these values on the international stage”.

The report pointed out that the Narendra Modi Government has presided over discriminatory policies and persecution of Muslim population.

“The constitution guarantees civil liberties including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, but harassment of journalists, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and other government critics has increased significantly under Modi. Muslims, scheduled castes (Dalits), and scheduled tribes (Adivasis) remain economically and socially marginalized,” it noted.

The introduction of the new social media rules, love jihad laws, the use of Pegasus Spyware, the death of 84-year-old rights activist Stan Swam in the jail and the farmer protests has been described as key developments.

The report pointed out the political marginalisation of Muslims by flagging their lack of representation in the parliament, the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), nation plan of the National Register of Citizens (NRC. It also pointed to the disenfranchisement of two million people in Assam through the NRC.

“A number of Hindu nationalist organizations and some media outlets promote anti-Muslim views, a practice that the government of Prime Minister Modi has been accused of encouraging. Attacks against Muslims and others in connection with the alleged slaughter or mistreatment of cows, which are held to be sacred by Hindus, continued in 2021. The BJP has faced criticism for failing to mount an adequate response to cow-related violence.”

The report mentioned the acquittal of prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the Babri Mosque demolition case, the laying of the foundation of Ram temple by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the Ayodhya verdict and the introduction of anti-conversion laws.

Talking about freedom of expression, the report said, “Attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically under the Modi government, and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years. Authorities have used security, defamation, sedition, and hate speech laws, as well as contempt-of-court charges, to quiet critical voices in the media. Hindu nationalist campaigns aimed at discouraging forms of expression deemed “antinational” have exacerbated self-censorship. Online disinformation from inauthentic sources is ubiquitous in the run-up to elections”.

It cited the case of a Muslim journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police while going to cover the incident of rape-murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras.

Talking about the suppression of human rights groups, it said, “A wide variety of NGOs operate, but some, particularly those involved in the investigation of human rights abuses, continue to face threats, legal harassment, excessive police force, and occasionally lethal violence”.

Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.

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