India’s faltering democracy – By Henry Srebrnik
….last March, Freedom House, a nonpartisan democracy advocacy organization, downgraded India from “free” to “partly free” in its annual Freedom in the World report…. The U.S. State Department’s human rights report on India, also released in March, cited “unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings perpetrated by police,” and “restrictions on freedom of expression and the press,”…
Author and lawyer Suchitra Vijayan, the founder and the executive director of the Polis Project, a research and journalism organization, spent seven years travelling India’s 14,500-kilometre land borders to explore how its various peoples are faring. In her newly published Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India, she concludes that what has emerged is “an authoritarian India, deeply antagonistic to secularism, political dissent, and pluralism.” The Indian state, she asserts, has always used excessive and extrajudicial violence on communities that resist, whether it’s the borderlands, peripheries, or mainland.
She was told that in many Muslim ruins and lesser-known shrines vandals place images and idols of Hindu gods and goddesses in them. Vijayan sees this as an attempt to exclude Muslims, India’s largest minority, from a shared history, and thereby to present the fiction that because India is a majority Hindu state it should be a Hindu-first state….