Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday accused the Indian government of adopting laws and policies that “systematically discriminate against Muslims and stigmatize critics of the government.”
HRW’s report came days ahead 23rd of February, which marks the first anniversary of the violence in New Delhi, where 53 people were killed, 40 of them were Muslims.
“Instead of conducting a credible and impartial investigation, including into allegations that [ruling Bharatiya Janata Party] BJP leaders incited violence and police officials were complicit in attacks, the authorities have targeted activists and protest organizers,” the report said.
“The authorities have lately responded to another mass protest, this time by farmers, by vilifying minority Sikh protesters and opening investigations into their alleged affiliation with separatist groups,” it added.
Also mentioning the protests of farmers against new farm laws in November, HRW accused the BJP leaders, their supporters on social media, and the pro-government media, of blaming the Sikhs, another religious minority.
“Following violent clashes on January 26 between the police and protesting farmers who broke through police barricades to enter Delhi, the authorities filed baseless criminal cases against journalists, ordered the internet to be shut down at multiple sites, and ordered Twitter to block nearly 1,200 accounts, including of journalists and news organizations, some of which Twitter later restored,” it said.
Since Modi came to power in 2014, various legislative and other actions have been taken, legitimizing discrimination against religious minorities and enabling violent Hindu nationalism, HRW said.
“These actions violate domestic law and India’s obligations under international human rights law that prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or religion, and require the governments to provide residents with equal protection of the law,” HRW said.
“The Indian government is also obligated to protect religious and other minority populations, and to fully and fairly prosecute those responsible for discrimination and violence against them,” it added.