India Is Partly Free and Kashmir Is Not Free: World Report

Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB
Prime Minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi. Photo: PIB

The report has listed a number of cases to highlight the human rights violations being committed by the Modi government.

By RMN News Service

The government led by prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has presided over discriminatory policies and a rise in persecution affecting the Muslim population. 

This fact is among the findings of the annual Freedom in the World 2022 report released on February 24 by Freedom House. The report says that the Indian 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. 

It adds that Muslims, scheduled castes (Dalits), and scheduled tribes (Adivasis) remain economically and socially marginalized in India.

The Freedom House report has labeled India as a “Partly Free” country while its Global Freedom Score has plummeted to 66 from 67 last year. Worse, India’s Internet Freedom Score is just 49 which shows that there are frequent restrictions on the use of the Internet in the country. 

As there are extreme human rights violations in the Kashmir region – which is under the occupation of Indian security forces – the Freedom House report states that Kashmir – with a Global Freedom Score of just 27 –  is “Not Free”.

The report has listed a number of cases to highlight the human rights violations being committed by the Modi government. In February 2021, for example, the Modi government introduced new rules that made it easier for authorities to compel social media platforms to remove unlawful content. Among other removals during the year, Twitter was ordered to take down posts that criticized the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Several states governed by the BJP passed or proposed “love jihad” laws meant to curb the alleged practice of Muslim men marrying Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam—a Hindu nationalist conspiracy theory. The legislation effectively created obstacles to interreligious marriage and came in the context of escalating threats and violence against the Muslim community, the report reveals.

Further, it states that a media investigation found in July that Pegasus spyware had been detected on smartphones belonging to dozens of leading opposition politicians, activists, businesspeople, and journalists. Also in July, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest who had advocated for Adivasi rights died in custody, having been arrested on dubious terrorism charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in October 2020.

The report also highlights the attacks of the Modi’s BJP government on political opponents. According to the report, prominent opposition leaders were arrested in October while trying to visit the scene of a deadly incident in which a car in a government minister’s convoy allegedly struck protesting farmers. The lengthy protests were organized in opposition to 2020 laws regulating the agricultural sector; Parliament ultimately repealed the laws in November.

Freedom House rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries and territories through its annual Freedom in the World report. Its latest report concludes that global freedom faces a dire threat. Around the world, according to the report, the enemies of liberal democracy—a form of self-government in which human rights are recognized and every individual is entitled to equal treatment under law—are accelerating their attacks.

Freedom House is an American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world.

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Rakesh Raman