Prime Minister Narendra Modi Must Uphold His Promise of a Nation Where Minorities Do Not Live In Fear

Amnesty International India
Bengaluru/ New Delhi: 30 May 2019 1:27 pm

Narendra Modi, who was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India for a second consecutive term today must make a sincere commitment to building an inclusive India, where rights of religious minorities are protected and human rights work continues unimpeded, said Amnesty India today.

Soon after the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)’s resounding victory at the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “Minorities have long been made to live in fear by those who believed in vote-bank politics and this deception needs to end to take everyone along. We have worked for sabka saath, sabka vikas (solidarity with everyone, development for all), now we have to strive for sabka vishwas (trust of all).”

“According to media reports, in 2018, hate crimes motivated by religious bias had risen to a decade-high of 93. While Prime Minister Modi’s acknowledgement of the fears shared by religious minorities is appreciated, he must take concrete steps to assure them that their constitutional rights will be upheld by his government,” said Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty India.

Between September 2015 and December 2018 Amnesty India recorded a total of 721 incidents of alleged hate crimes through its website ‘Halt the Hate’. The website documents incidents reported in English and Hindi media of alleged hate crimes against people from marginalized communities, including Dalits, Adivasis, transgender persons, and migrants, and members of racial or religious minority groups.

The year 2018 also witnessed a massive crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists, Right to Information activists and civil society organizations working for some of the poorest and marginalized communities in India. Many activists, like Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Varavara Rao and Vernon Gonsalves, were arrested and subjected to a sustained smear campaign where they are projected as ‘anti-nationals’ and Maoists.

A recent report by the Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organization revealed that nearly half of the newly-elected Lok Sabha members have criminal charges against them, of which 29 have registered cases related to hate speech.

“Amnesty India believes that sustainable development for all can only be achieved in conditions of fairness, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability. The recent crackdown by the Indian authorities – treating human rights organisations as criminal enterprises and human rights defenders as criminals is in direct contrast to keeping those accused of human rights violations in positions of power. It is also inconsistent with promises made by the Prime Minister,” said Aakar Patel.

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Nazia Erum
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