India Added To CIVICUS Monitor’s Human Rights Watchlist, Labeled “Repressed”
CIVICUS, an international non-profit organization that monitors the state of civil society and democracy worldwide, has added India to its watchlist of countries that have seen a rapid decline in civic freedoms due to the drastic repressive measures taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to stifle dissent. Other countries on the list include El Salvador, Russia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.
“The authorities have blocked access to foreign funding for NGOs using the restrictive Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and raided the offices of human rights groups for allegedly violating the law,” CIVICUS’s India page states. “There continues to be a lack of accountability on the use of the Pegasus spyware against activists, while human rights defenders and journalists continue to be targeted, including in Jammu and Kashmir. Activists and protesters also remain in detention on various trumped-up charges.”
CIVICUS also cited the ongoing harassment of Muslim students protesting for their right to wear the hijab in schools, saying, “The hijab ban violates India’s obligations under international human rights law, which guarantees the rights to freely manifest one’s religious beliefs, to freedom of expression, and to education without discrimination.”
Hindu Supremacists, BJP Leaders Account For Most Of 89 Instances of Hate Speech, Hate Crimes Recorded In 4 Months
Heartland Hatewatch, a project monitoring hate speech and hate crimes run by Indian news publication The Wire, has reported that at least 89 instances of hate crimes and hate speech occurred across six North Indian states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Haryana – in the span of just four months, since October 2021.
The hateful incidents included Hindu extremists calling for genocide, carrying out mob lynchings, beating and humiliating Muslim men, calling to shoot Muslims, forcibly shutting down Muslim-owned businesses around Hindu festival times, desecrating churches and Muslim prayer spaces, forcing Muslim women to strip off their hijabs, taking anti-Muslim oaths, spreading fake news and anti-Muslim propaganda in the media, and hate speeches made by BJP leaders in a bid for re-election.
Out of 89 incidents, 28 were carried out by known Hindu supremacist groups, while five incidents took place because of an ‘unknown’ mob or group. Meanwhile, “BJP leaders were affiliated with a full 18 incidents out of 89 – over 20%,” the Wire stated in its analysis of the data.
As BJP Victory Looms In Several Indian States, Twitter Users Express Fear
India’s contentious state elections, which have been rife with anti-Muslim hate speech and fear-mongering from the BJP, have culminated in what seems to be a clear win for the Hindu supremacist-affiliated party in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur states.
The looming BJP victory has led social media users to express their fear and concerns over the decline of democracy in India.
“It genuinely breaks my heart to see the India of Nehru & Mahatma Gandhi dying in my generation, even though I know that this is what millions of Indians want & are celebrating,” tweeted Mohamed Zeeshan, who has written for the Washington Post and the Economist.
“A large population of India is addicted to the idea of persecuting Muslims. No matter how broken they become, the ecstasy of everyday fascism will make them vote hate,” tweeted Shaheen Abdulla, a multimedia journalist at Maktoob Media. “Welcome to reality again.”
“I can only think of those girls today who are fighting for their education while their fellow citizens re-elect the same people who are forcing them to choose between faith and education. Can those girls switch off, for mental health, knowing that their fight just got harder?” tweeted another user.