Unveiling India’s Human Rights Crisis: Insights From The CRS Report – OpEd


In a recent damning report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), titled “India: Human Rights Assessment,” a bleak and alarming portrayal of the human rights situation in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has come to light. The document meticulously outlines a series of systemic abuses and erosions of civil liberties, painting a grim reality of the nation’s human rights landscape.

Among the unsettling revelations lie the flagrant violations of religious freedom and minority rights, illustrating a disturbing trend under the Modi-led BJP regime. Religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs endure an onslaught of persecution and violence, with incidents of unlawful killings, extrajudicial actions, and torture becoming disturbingly commonplace. The report highlights a sharp increase in attacks against minorities, along with a disturbing rise in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The report serves as a damning exposé, shining a harsh light on the alarming and entrenched human rights abuses prevalent in India. This grim reality exposes the hollow facade of India’s democratic institutions and underscores the urgent need for international intervention to address the escalating human rights crisis in India.

The erosion of press freedom in India paints a dire picture of the country’s democratic fabric, marred by mounting concerns over censorship and intimidation tactics aimed at silencing dissenting voices. Journalists and online critics who dare to question government policies find themselves targeted by Indian authorities, often facing prosecution under draconian counterterrorism and sedition laws. Fabricated or politically motivated charges are wielded as weapons to suppress free speech, instilling a pervasive climate of fear among those who dare to speak out. This systematic suppression of dissent not only undermines the fundamental role of a free press in holding power to account but also exposes the stark reality of India’s deteriorating human rights situation. It lays bare the hypocrisy of a nation that claims to champion democracy while actively stifling dissent and trampling on the rights of its citizens.

The alarming surge in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances across India reflects a disturbing disregard for the rule of law and basic human rights. Individuals are summarily executed without due legal process, while others vanish without explanation or recourse to justice. The situation is particularly dire in Manipur, where arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and systemic abuses by Indian forces and police are rampant. These egregious violations not only trample on fundamental human rights but also perpetuate a culture of impunity and fear, eroding trust in India’s purported commitment to democracy and justice. The prevalence of such atrocities underscores the deep-seated flaws in India’s governance, revealing a regime willing to sacrifice civil liberties and democratic principles in pursuit of its agenda. It is a stark reminder of the urgent need for international scrutiny and intervention to address the escalating human rights crisis in the country.

India’s dubious distinction as the world leader in government-imposed internet shutdowns, with a staggering 805 recorded between January 2020 and February 2024, epitomizes a brazen assault on fundamental rights and democratic principles. These shutdowns, often wielded as tools to stifle dissent and suppress protests, underscore a systemic disregard for the basic tenets of freedom of expression and access to information. By severing digital communication channels, the Indian government not only muzzles dissenting voices but also inflicts severe disruptions on daily life and economic activities. This pervasive censorship strategy further marginalizes already vulnerable communities, exacerbating the systematic disenfranchisement of religious minorities and human rights defenders. Such authoritarian tactics serve as a glaring indictment of India’s democratic credentials, revealing a regime willing to sacrifice civil liberties and democratic norms in pursuit of political expediency.

Transparency International’s 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a damning portrait of India’s endemic corruption, with a paltry score of 39 out of 100 and a dismal global ranking of 93rd out of 180 countries assessed. This abysmal performance underscores the pervasive rot within India’s public sector, indicative of deep-seated systemic corruption that permeates all levels of governance. Such rampant malfeasance not only stifles economic progress but also corrodes the very foundations of democratic governance, eroding public trust in institutions meant to safeguard rights and liberties. The entrenched culture of corruption not only impedes equitable development but also exacerbates existing human rights challenges, with marginalized communities bearing the brunt of institutional neglect and exploitation. This dire state of affairs lays bare the glaring failure of India’s governance structures, underscoring a systemic dysfunction that perpetuates inequality, injustice, and impunity.

As the world grapples with the damning revelations of the CRS report, it serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to confront the grave human rights violations tarnishing India’s democratic fabric. The Indian government’s flagrant disregard for democratic principles, political freedom, and religious freedom underscores a systemic rot that threatens the very foundation of democracy. The onus to uphold justice, equality, and dignity for all does not solely rest on the Indian government but also on the international community, which must hold India accountable for its egregious violations. Immediate and concerted efforts are imperative to reverse the current trajectory of repression and ensure that human rights are upheld and protected. The future of India’s democracy hinges on a steadfast commitment to these fundamental principles, yet the current state of affairs paints a bleak picture of a nation mired in corruption, authoritarianism, and systematic abuse of power. It is incumbent upon the global community to stand in solidarity with those oppressed in India and demand an end to the erosion of democracy and human rights.

Muhammad Haris

Muhammad Haris is an Islamabad-based researcher and policy analyst. He frequently writes on issues related to contemporary South Asia.

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