BJP-led govt has prosecuted all those critical of its policies: Human Rights watch

The HRW report puts on the world stage allegations of multiple human rights violations recorded in the country in 2020


Human Rights Watch (HRW), an independent group that investigates and reports on abuses happening across the world, has released a report titled World Report 2021: Rights Trends in India. The report highlights the allegations of multiple human rights violations under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of India. According to the report, the current political regime has been noted to have “increasingly harassed, arrested, and prosecuted rights defenders, activists, journalists, students, academics, and others critical of the government or its policies.”

It particulary highlights that the “harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir since revoking the state’s constitutional status in August 2019”. It has also put on record the attacks against minorities, especially Muslims, across the country. The HRW has alleged that the “authorities failed to take action against BJP leaders who vilified Muslims and BJP supporters who engaged in violence”.

It detailed the violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including detentions under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which permits detention without trial for up to two years. It also notes the new media policy in Jammu and Kashmir that empowers the authorities to decide what is “fake news, plagiarism and unethical or anti-national activities” and to take punitive action against media outlets, journalists, and editors. According to HRW, the policy contains “vague and overbroad provisions that are open to abuse and could unnecessarily restrict and penalize legally protected speech”. 

HRW has also brought forth the role of police and security forces during the Covid-19 lockdown. It noted that “in several states, police beat people who violated the lockdown, including those trying to get essential supplies” citing examples from West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh police’s actions on citizens they suspected of “breaking the lockdown.” It noted that until October 2020, the National Human Rights Commission reported 77 deaths in police custody, 1,338 deaths in judicial custody, and 62 alleged extrajudicial killings.

HRW dedicated a section in its report on: Dalits, tribal groups, and religious minorities. The section led with the February 2020 communal riots of North East Delhi. “Violence broke out soon after a local BJP politician, Kapil Mishra, demanded that the police clear the roads of protesters. Tensions had been building for weeks, with BJP leaders openly advocating violence against the protesters, whom some called “traitors” to be shot. Witness accounts and video evidence showed police complicity in the violence,” stated HRW quoting findings from the July 2020 report by the Delhi Minorities Commission that stated the violence in Delhi was “planned and targeted,” said the report that also found that the police were filing cases against Muslim victims for the violence, but not taking action against the BJP leaders who incited it.

It also cited the instances from Uttar Pradesh, where there are allegations of cow slaughter to target Muslims, “By August, the Uttar Pradesh government had arrested 4,000 people over allegations of cow slaughter under the law preventing it, and also used the draconian National Security Act against 76 people accused of cow slaughter.” It also noted that the Muslim community was villified and accused of spreading Covid-19 and that “pro-government media had screamed “CoronaJihad” and social media platforms were “flooded by calls for social and economic boycotts of Muslims.” 

The report quoted 2019 government data, stating crimes against Dalits had “increased by 7 percent,” detailing attacks on Dalits in Odisha, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu, Gujarat etc. One of the most crucial remarks have been made by the HRW on the clampdown on dissent voiced by human rights defenders, and activists who have subsequently been blamed and accused in connection with the communal violence in February in Delhi as well as caste-based violence in Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra that took place in January 2018. “Police investigations in these cases were biased and aimed at silencing dissent and deterring future protests against government policies,” alleged HRW. It added that journalists too have faced “criminal cases, arrest, threat, or even physical assault by mobs or police.” 

The complete report may be read here:


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