“In the face of countless attacks on free speech and threats to marginalized communities, the Indian government has chosen to be in denial,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director of the Human Rights Watch on September 21 this year. You must be thinking why are we talking about it today? Because today, as the world celebrates Human Rights Day, India needs to wake up, accept and do something about the human rights violations on its own land.
On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed Universal Declaration of Human Rights and since then this day is being celebrated as Human Rights Day all over the world.
India saw a spike in number of cases of attacks by cow vigilante groups, hate crimes in the name of ‘love jihad’, crimes against women and children, denial of basic human rights to the LGBTQI community, abuse by armed groups and last but not the least, intimidation, death threats and killings to curb freedom speech and expression.
1. Cow vigilante violence and ‘Love Jihad’ cases
The Human Rights Watch report 2017 noted:
Mob attacks by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) against minority communities, especially Muslims and Dalits, have become a serious threat. In the first seven months of 2017, there were 26 attacks, and seven people were killed over rumors that they sold, bought, or killed cows for beef. “
After remaining quite for several months, PM Narendra Modi spoke up and said, “Killing people in the name of Gau Bhakti is not acceptable. This is not something Mahatma Gandhi would approve.” However, no strict action was taken by the government to curb this menace.
Hate crimes in the name of ‘Love Jihad’ (a word whose origin is attributed to far-right groups) saw an increase in 2017. The ongoing Hadiya case or the ‘Kerala Love Jihad’ case in the Supreme Court which made headlines this year is a proof of how religious paranoia has gripped our country.
2. Attacks on the right to freedom of speech and expression
A staunch critic of right-wing politics, journalist Gauri Lankesh’s was shot dead by three unidentified men in Bangalore right outside her house.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati became the one of the most controversial topics of India in 2017. From Rajput Karni Sena to other fringe groups, the movie was dragged into the political arena with finally its release being deferred. While one of the BJP leaders of Haryana announced a prize money of Rs 10 crore on Deepika Padukone and Bhansali’s head, states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh banned the release of the movie.
3. Crimes against women and children
With #MeToo and Raya Sarkar controversial list, a number of women in India came forward to speak about the sexual harassment. Recently, National Crimes Record Bureau released data which showed that crimes against women saw a rise of 2.9% in 2016 as compared to 2015.
Unfortunately, even children and minors became a victim of sexual abuse and assault and a number of cases made headlines this year with the latest one being the Kolkata sexual assault case.
4. Denial of rights to the LGBTQI community
The LGBTQI community, which continues to be treated unfairly in this country feels wronged once again as the government plans to introduce the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 during the Winter session of the parliament. Their contention: the clauses of the Bill are discriminatory in nature and will further ostracise them as a community.
For starters, the Bill defines a transgender as ‘one who is partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male’.