IAMC Weekly News Digest, 23rd July 2021
Over 30 US civil society organisations have issued a joint resolution urging the Biden Administration to sanction India for religious persecution of non-Hindu Indians. Issued on the closing day of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington and initiated by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), the resolution urged the US State Department to designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern”, and to sanction officials and others promoting religious discrimination and open persecution of non-Hindu religions in India. It listed specific instances and historical evidence of government-backed harassment, oppression, and intimidation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others…. A US Senator and two members of Congress were among those who voiced their concerns about religious discrimination and intolerance in India….
Narendra Modi’s government has been accused of treason and “unforgivable sacrilege” by the political opposition in India following a series of reports by the Pegasus project revealing several journalists, activists and an opposition election strategist had their phone numbers included in a data leak of more than 50,000 numbers that, since 2016, are believed to have been selected as those of persons of interests by government clients of NSO Group. The stories, published in the Guardian and in partner media outlets around the world on Sunday and Monday, revealed details of hundreds of verified Indian phone numbers that appear in leaked records of numbers…. The surveillance software, which India has never confirmed using, is licensed only to national governments. Analysis of the phone numbers selected for possible surveillance by the NSO client in question indicates that it was predominately used to target Indian numbers including those of critics of the Modi government….
Tax authorities in India raided several offices of one of the world’s biggest-selling newspapers on Thursday, a move journalists and leading opposition politicians described as an attack on press freedom. The newspaper, Dainik Bhaskar, said that tax inspectors visited its offices in the capital New Delhi and the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in the early morning. The paper shocked India with its reporting of dead bodies in the river Ganges during the brutal second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic this spring. It criticized authorities for under-reporting Covid-19 deaths and challenged state officials and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their handling of the crisis….