The last year ended with nationwide protests against a series of controversial citizenship change laws passed by the Indian government in December. And, according to experts, the country has since become a “dangerous and violent place for Muslim minorities.”
Throughout 2020, India’s civil society has been repeatedly attacked by central and state governments for criticizing the state administration or institutions. And now, the Report on the State of Minorities in South Asia 2020 has found that India has become increasingly intolerant of both dissidents and religious minorities.
The annual report analyzes the state of civic space and personal freedoms accessible to citizens, especially minorities, living in South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
While the report notes a detrimental trend in almost every attitude of the country towards upholding the core principles of democracy, including upholding freedom of expression and secularism, its remarks on India shed light on the country’s growing levels of intolerance.
Attacks on minorities
The report notes that India has become a “dangerous and violent place for Muslim minorities”.
In December 2019, the Government of India passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which allowed the Government of India to grant citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians, and arrived in India before since the end of December 2014. The law has not been extended to Muslims in the three countries, all of which are dominated by Muslims.
The government has also stated its intentions to implement the National Register of Indian Citizens, which would allow the Indian government to identify and deport illegal immigrants. Along with the CAA, many critics believed that the laws had the potential to be used to control and discriminate against religious minorities in India.
The year saw an increasing number of attacks on minorities. As anti-CAA protests in north-east Delhi culminated in sectarian violence in February, the coronavirus The pandemic was also linked to widespread Islamophobia after the Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin in Delhi became a Covid-19 hotspot.
More recently, enforcement and arrests under a new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh have been called “Islamophobic” by critics for targeting Muslim men for “the love of jihad.”
Attacks by human rights defenders
The report also notes that Indian civil society actors, including human rights lawyers, activists, protesters, academics, journalists, liberal intellectuals, have been “increasingly attacked” for speaking out against “excesses”. government and the majority ”.
Human rights defenders in India have been increasingly attacked because “protests against discriminatory laws and practices have faced restrictions, violence, criminal defamation, detention and harassment.”
The findings come as a result of an increasing number of arrests under the Law on the Prevention of Illegal Activities or UAPA. The controversial law, often referred to as “draconian” by critics, believes the law is used to hide dissent in the nation.
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The report also notes an increase in media censorship. He notes the temporary bans on two channels in Kerala because they are “critical of the Delhi police and the RSS” for covering up riots in Delhi.
In April this year, India fell two places on a global press freedom index, ranking 142nd out of 180 countries in the annual Reporters Without Borders analysis.