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Wed. July 17, 2024
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Beyond the Ganges: A Journey into India’s Human Rights Abyss
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In the shadow of the Himalayas, a report has emerged that casts a long shadow over the vibrant colors of India’s diverse landscape. The US Congressional Research Service published “India: Human Rights Assessments” which reflects the nation’s human rights tableau that has darkened under the watch of Prime Minister Modi’s tenure.

The report serves as a narrative of voices unheard, freedoms unclaimed, and lives unvalued. It speaks of a tapestry frayed at the edges, where the threads of religious freedom and minority rights have been pulled too taut. In Modi’s India, the rich mosaic of faiths—Muslims, Christians, Sikhs—finds itself under siege, with unlawful killings, extrajudicial actions, and torture just a few examples of the systematic discrimination against religious minorities.

Journalists, once the harbingers of truth, now navigate a labyrinth of intimidation and censorship: many suffer from blocked social media accounts or home raids due to accusations of criminal acts under the Indian Penal Code. The press, a pillar of democracy, stands eroded by draconian laws i.e. the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and politically motivated charges. The report chronicles this assault on the fourth estate, a testament to the courage of those who still dare to exercise their rights to free speech and expression.

The CRS report accounts extrajudicial tales—killings without trial, disappearances without trace. Manipur, a jewel of the northeast, is spotlighted as a theater of human rights tragedies, where the curtain rarely rises on justice.

In a digital age, India’s distinction is paradoxical— a booming technology sector, yet the world leader in internet shutdowns. With over 800 instances of silenced bytes and blocked voices, such as the March 2023 blanket internet shutdown in Punjab, the report underscores a digital curfew imposed to quell dissent, a blackout on the fundamental right to speak and be heard.

Corruption, the report notes, haunts the corridors of power. Transparency International’s index paints a portrait of India mired in the muck of corruption, its score a mere 39 out of 100, ranking it 93rd in the world. It’s a scorecard that reflects the eroded trust of a people in their institutions.

The CRS report is a call to action. A call for India to weave back together the frayed edges of its tapestry and for the world to stand in solidarity with the values of justice and dignity. It’s a reminder that in the grand tapestry of humanity, every thread counts, and every color is needed, and every pattern is part of a larger picture of human rights and democratic ideals.

As the world witness the findings of the CRS report, it serves as a clarion call for urgent action to address the grave human rights violations tarnishing India's democratic fabric. The onus lies not only on the Indian government, but also on the international community to uphold the values of justice, equality, and dignity for all.

Iqra Awan is a Research Fellow at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and can be reached at iqraawann18@gmail.com

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