Amnesty criticizes India for intolerance for dissent

NEW DELHI - Amnesty International has joined a growing international chorus accusing India of supporting a climate of intolerance by cracking down on dissent through arbitrary arrests, caste-based discrimination, extrajudicial killings and attacks on freedom of expression.

See Full Article

The rights group said in its annual international report, published Wednesday, that India's Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had failed to prevent hundreds of incidents of communal violence, usually involving members of the Hindu majority pitted against Muslims or other minorities. Instead, ruling party lawmakers and politicians were fueling religious tensions with provocative speeches and justifications for the violence, it said.

Amnesty's report also highlights the government's continued harassment of civil society groups critical of official policies over the past year, as well as government legal action aimed at controlling foreign funds for nongovernmental organizations.

"Over 3,200 people were being held in January under administrative detention on executive orders without charge or trial," the report said, adding that state authorities used "anti-terror" laws to illegally hold activists and protesters in custody.

The report is the latest criticism to be levelled at Modi's government after a year fraught with communal tension as members of India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party try to impose their brand of hyper-nationalism.

Dozens of Indian authors, scientists, historians and film industry workers have returned national awards to protest the trend, which has seen arrests of student protesters, the murder of three atheist scholars and mob killings over rumours of cow slaughter. Among India's majority Hindu population, cows are considered sacred.

On Monday, both the New York Times and Le Monde newspapers ran editorials lambasting Modi's government. The Times editorial board said the ongoing confrontation between Hindu nationalists and free-speech advocates "raises serious concerns about Modi's governance and may further stall any progress in Parliament on economic reforms."

Last week, a group of 133 university professors from around the world - including linguist Noam Chomsky, Nobel-winning novelist Orphan Pamuk and economist James Galbraith - said the recent arrest of a student leader on sedition charges "is further evidence of the present government's deeply authoritarian nature, intolerant of any dissent, setting aside India's longstanding commitment to toleration and plurality of opinion."

Modi and his government have remained largely unmoved by the criticism, saying little in response other than to denounce it as anti-government propaganda designed to distract from the government's agenda. Meanwhile, Modi has insisted he is prime minister for all of India, and not just Hindus, and urged the nation to instead focus on growing the economy.

The Amnesty report also said that prisoner safety remained a serious concern, and that "over 282,000 prisoners - 68 per cent of the total prison population - were pretrial detainees." Most prisons are badly overcrowded, while torture and abuse in police or judicial custody led the country's Supreme Court last year to demand that state governments install closed-circuit television cameras within the next two years.

It questioned the Indian Parliament's defeat of legislation to decriminalize same-sex relations, noting that the country was still adhering to a colonial-era law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by up to a decade in prison.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • N.L. paper apologizes for headline critics said blamed sex-case complainant

    Canada News CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- A Newfoundland newspaper has issued an apology for a headline some readers said blamed the victim of an alleged sexual assault by a police officer. Steve Bartlett, managing editor of the Telegram in St. Source
  • Russia's ambassador to United Nations dies at 64

    World News CBC News
    Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly Monday after falling ill in his office at the mission, Russian officials said. Churkin, 64, was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in New York, where he died, Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press. Source
  • Buckle up when told by flight crews, TSB investigation recommends

    Canada News CBC News
    Transportation Safety Board (TSB) officials who investigated a turbulent Air Canada flight that left 21 people hurt are reminding passengers to wear seatbelts after it was determined that many onboard the plane diverted to Calgary had not buckled up when urged to do so. Source
  • Russia's UN ambassador dies in NYC at 64

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Russian officials say its ambassador to the United Nations has died suddenly in New York City. Vitaly Churkin was 64. Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told The Associated Press that Churkin became ill in his office at Russia's UN mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died Monday. Source
  • Driver clocked at 203 km/h in 60 km/h zone in Toronto: police

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto Police say a man is facing charges after allegedly being clocked at more than three times the legal limit in east-end Toronto. They say an officer spotted a car travelling at high speed early Monday morning and measured the speed at 203 km/h in a posted 60 km/h zone. Source
  • Iraqi troops move on western Mosul as Mattis holds talks

    World News CTV News
    SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces advanced Monday into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. Source
  • TSB warns air travellers of importance of seatbelts after severe turbulence incident

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Transportation Safety Board is highlighting the importance of seatbelts for air travellers after it investigated a severe turbulence incident on a Toronto-bound flight. The incident took place on a Dec. Source
  • Former Canadian union leader Bob White dies

    Canada News CBC News
    Bob White, the Canadian union leader who founded the Canadian Auto Workers after splitting off from its American counterpart, has died at the age of 81. Unifor, the union which now encompasses the Canadian Auto Workers, tweeted that White was "a great union leader. Source
  • Kremlin defends recognition of Ukrainian rebel passports

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- The Kremlin on Monday defended its decision to recognize passports issued by separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine, saying it came as a response to Ukraine's blockade of rebel regions. President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also shrugged off a peace plan that a Ukrainian lawmaker reportedly tried to peddle to U.S. Source
  • Famine declared in part of South Sudan by government and UN

    World News CTV News
    KAMPALA, Uganda -- Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, according to an announcement by the South Sudan government and three UN agencies, which says the calamity is the result of prolonged civil war and an entrenched economic crisis that has devastated the war-torn East African nation. Source