Washington Post:India’s cruelty to its critics shows the deterioration of the world’s largest | IAMC

Washington Post:India’s cruelty to its critics shows the deterioration of the world’s largest

India, the world’s largest democracy, takes political prisoners.

Indian authorities have jailed Surendra Gadling, a lawyer known for defending Dalits (once known as “untouchables”), and Rona Wilson, a human rights activist, for three years without trial. They are victims of an extensive malware campaign that framed them for plotting with Maoist insurgents, according to a recent forensics report. Someone — the perpetrator remains unknown — hacked into their computers via a malware-laden email, then planted incriminating documents, including one that discusses assassinating Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What links Mr. Gadling, Mr. Wilson and many of the malware’s 14 other recipients is their outspoken criticism of India’s ruling party and Mr. Modi’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

As defenders of India’s persecuted, Mr. Gadling and Mr. Wilson are experts on the law under which they have been jailed: the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Amended under Mr. Modi, it allows individuals to be labeled as terrorists without trial, held for months without charges and denied bail. Indian authorities last year used the law to jail dozens of activists also accused of conspiring to destabilize India. Some received the malware that framed Mr. Wilson and Mr. Gadling. U.N. experts declared the terrorism charges brought against Indian activists to be a “pretext to silence human rights defenders.” Still, they remain imprisoned.

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