Indian minorities at receiving end

Islamabad, March 11, 2019 (PPI-OT): The extent of marginalization and dismal state of the minorities particularly Muslims in India are such that the United Nations Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet has warned New Delhi that its divisive policies could damage its economic growth.

Kashmir Media Service, quoting a write-up by Zahoor Khan Marwat said, the UN Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in her recent annual report to the UN Human Rights Council, revealed that narrow political agendas were marginalising vulnerable people in an already unequal Indian society. She has warned India that its divisive policies can cause hindrance to New Delhi’s economic growth.

Though one Indian economist says that “India is the only country in the world that grows at 7.35 per cent, without investment, without industrial growth, without agricultural growth. Just like magic.”

Back to the UNHRC chief who said she was receiving reports indicating increasing harassment and targeting of minorities, particularly Muslims. “In India, where there had been significant poverty reduction in overall terms, inequality remains a serious issue,” she said.

Bachelet also expressed concern over the tensions in Indian-occupied Kashmir and on the Line of Control (LoC). She encouraged Islamabad and New Delhi to invite UNHRC to monitor the situation on the ground, and to assist in addressing the human rights issues.

Earlier, the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2018 had also highlighted the failure of the Narendra Modi-led government in India to stop or convincingly investigate attacks against religious minorities. “Many senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism at the expense of fundamental rights for all Indians,” it said, adding that “mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef”.

The report made it clear that instead of taking prompt legal action against the attackers, police frequently filed complaints against the victims under laws banning cow slaughter. “Dissent was labeled anti-national, and activists, journalists, and academics were targeted for their views, chilling free expression. Foreign funding regulations were used to target nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) critical of government actions or policies. Lack of accountability for past abuses committed by security forces persisted even as there were new allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings, including in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu and Kashmir.”

The HRW added: “Mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling BJP against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef. Instead of taking prompt legal action against the attackers, police frequently filed complaints against the victims under laws banning cow slaughter. As of November, there had been 38 such attacks, and 10 people killed during the year. In July, even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally condemned such violence, an affiliate organization of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), announced plans to recruit 5,000 religious soldiers to control cow smuggling and love jihad. So-called love jihad, according to Hindu groups, is a conspiracy among Muslim men to marry Hindu women and convert them to Islam.”

A US government report by USCIRF Chair Thomas J. Reese has admitted: “India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination. However, the reality is far different. In fact, India’s pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges … (and) during the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India.

“During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India. To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align their laws with both the country’s constitutional commitments and international human rights standards,” Reese said.

Not only the minorities, a social scientist Deepa Naryan admitted in The Guardian, UK: “India is at war with its girls and women….India can arguably be accused of the largest-scale human rights violation on Earth: the persistent degradation of the vast majority of its 650 million girls and women. And this includes the middle classes.”

Unfortunately, the United States has added Pakistan, not India, to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the US government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations. India, of course, is the US strategic partner!

A quote says about fools: “Remembering the childhood and its associated frolics has nothing wrong with it. But what if someone acts childish throughout his life. Some of the people have this self-destruct quality that never lets them grow-up. For them to think is to act, and the consequences be damned.” Perhaps this seems to apply perfectly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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