Human rights violations upsurge in India (2022) under BJP


India: Freedom in the World 2022 Country Report | Freedom House

by Muhammad Ali Raza    April 19 2023

In the 2023 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, India (2022) released by the US Department of State. As the report says the government or its agents were found involved in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials. The state department also pointed out harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees, and arbitrary or unlawful interference. An earlier example of this is the targeted killing of a former Member of the Indian Legislative Assembly (MLA) and politician Atiq Ahmed and his brother under police custody on 15th April in Uttar Pradesh (UP). To which culprits and the BJP government tried to give an act of communal violence. While most journalist has their opinion that it’s an act of political vengeance because Atiq Ahmed contested the election in 2019 against Modi from Varanasi. CM UP Yogi Adityanath is a Hindu Nationalist and he remained controversial for his action against Muslims since he became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh the number of communal violence cases is out large.  On 13th April the son of Atiq Ahmed was killed in an encounter by UP police.

The Indian state was found involved in blatant restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence or threats of violence, unjustified arrests, or prosecutions of journalists. The serious government corruption, harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations, and lack of investigation and accountability have also been highlighted. According to the report, a rising trend of targeting members of national/racial/ethnic and minority groups based on religious affiliation, social status, or sexual orientation was observed. The lack of accountability for official misconduct persisted at all levels of government, contributing to widespread impunity and contributed towards human rights violations in India.

According to the report, there is an increase in human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir has been observed. Killings by government forces and non-government entities were reported in Jammu and Kashmir. Women in Jammu and Kashmir were often victims of rape or threats of rape. In March 2021, UN special rapporteurs asked the Indian government to provide details regarding allegations of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, and disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and UN special rapporteurs expressed concern over continued allegations of large numbers of unmarked single and mass burial sites in J&K. Persons arrested under the Unlawful Activities Protection Act (UAPA) between 2018 and 2020 in IIOJK remained on the higher side. Under the UAPA the government can designate individuals as terrorists and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) can seize properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism.

The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for up to two years without visitation from family members. In April 2022, the press reported that more than 500 persons remained in detention under the PSA in Jammu and Kashmir. The report noted journalists working in Jammu and Kashmir continued to face barriers to free reporting through communications and movement restrictions. As of July 21, two journalists from The Kashmir Walla, an online newspaper, remained in detention.  In June, the Special Investigation Agency (SIA) arrested Abdul Alaa Fazili, a one-time contributor to The Kashmir Walla, under the UAPA for a November 2011 article. Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, who was arrested by the NIA for “terror funding” and “conspiracy” in November 2021, continued in detention.  His pretrial detention has been extended at least five times by the NIA Special Court in New Delhi. Kashmiri journalist, Asif Sultan, detained since 2018, under the UAPA, was rearrested before his release on bail in April under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows for detention for up to two years without trial. In J&K, police arrested journalists Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul under the UAPA and PSA.  According to Human Rights Watch, at least 35 journalists had faced assaults, police interrogations, and raids on their places of work, fabricated cases, and restrictions on movement in Jammu and Kashmir since 2019.

NGO Software Freedom Law Center reported the central and state governments conducted localized internet shutdowns 67 times as of October and 101 times in 2021.  According to state-level data provided by the center, Jammu and Kashmir experienced 40 instances of internet shutdowns as of October. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was released in 2020, alleged that she was subjected to periods of house arrest throughout the year, which security officials at times denied.  Chairman of the separatist Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continued to be under house arrest, and political parties called for his release. Some human rights monitors in J&K were able to document human rights violations, but periodically security forces, police, and other law enforcement authorities reportedly restrained or harassed them.

Representatives of certain international Human Rights NGOs faced difficulties obtaining visas and reported that occasional official harassment and restrictions limited their public distribution of materials. The United Nations or Other International Bodies:  The United Nations had limited access to Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states. The Indian government closed the Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission in 2019 and ordered the NHRC to oversee human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP government took very harsh measures to suppress local media and international media as well. But this report highlighted at what level the BJP government in India has been violating human rights inside India and in Jammu & Kashmir.