Each year, on 10th December, the United Nations observes international human rights day. When the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, it was proclaimed as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets out a broad range of fundamental rights and freedoms to which all of us are entitled. It guarantees the rights of every individual everywhere, without distinction based on nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, religion, language, or any other status.
Kashmir, a prison
The day comes and goes by without any tangible effect on the lives of the people deprived of human rights. Aside from the legal rigmarole about the Kashmir dispute, there is a human rights dimension to the dispute. Kashmir has been reduced to a prison. Even Mehbooba Mufti, a former BJP ally, was compelled to call Kashmir a Guantanamo Bay prison, claiming that “Kashmiris feel that they are literally imprisoned in a cage from which almost all exit routes are barred”.
India’s dismal human-rights profile
India’s crackdowns and cordon-and-search operations continued in the occupied Kashmir even the Human Rights Day. Amnesty International has urged unconditional and unconstrained access to news and information from the valley.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1,250 Kashmiris have been blinded by metal pellets used by Indian security forces from mid 2016 to the end of 2018.
Indian troops martyred 95,917 innocent Kashmiris including 7,215 in custody, widowed 22,939, orphaned 107, and 855 and molested 11,245 women since January 1989. India actions violate the UNSC resolutions and international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and Security Council Resolution 122.
India’s crackdown on rights activists and journalists
They did not spare even peaceful protesters likethe 62-year-old Parveena Ahanger and the families of hundreds of victims of enforced disappearances. They had reportedly gathered at a park to seek the whereabouts of their children or spouses who disappeared during decades of conflict.
Last month, prominent rights activist Khurram Parvez was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for “criminal conspiracy and waging war against the government”. Parvez, 44, is programme coordinator at Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society a leading group documenting and campaigning against rights abuses by the Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir for the last 20 years.
The Society has published extensive reports on torture, civilian killings, rapes and illegal detentions, and detaied the impunity given to by the armed forces in the disputed region. In 2008, a disclosure about the presence of more than 2,000 unmarked graves shocked the people.
Parvez had earlier been arrested in 2016 under the Public Safety Act. This is another draconian law like the UAPA under which a person can be detained for a year or more without trial.
In its 2018 report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) extensively quoted the Society’s findings. In another report in 2019, the UN called for the formation of a commission of inquiry into the allegations of rights violations in the region.
The reports irked the Modi government so much that it cracked down on journalists and ordinary people on the Rights Day. India has, practically, “criminalised human rights work” in the occupied Kashmir.
India ranks among the most dangerous countries for the journalists, according to Reporters without Borders, which published its 2021 World Press Freedom Index. The coordinated hate campaign against journalist’s calls for the journalists concerned to be murdered. From May 2019 to August 2021, 256 journalists were attacked.
Journalism has become a crime in India. In 2017, prominent journalist Gauri Lankesh, known for her outspoken criticism, was shot dead in Bangalore. Moreover, Rana Ayyub a famous journalist who had exposed Modi and CM of Gujarat in “Gujarat Files” was victim of a campaign of intimidation. Indian government was annoyed at her interview in BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sackur. She alleged the Indian government had “tried every tool in the book to silence her voice and journalism”. Even UN has exposed India’s true face by publishing a report on the use of excessive force by police on public roads against Journalists and human-rights defenders.
Social posts about Rawat’s death criminalised
India has declared it an offence to post comments about Rawat’s death shrouded in mystery on social media. The mysterious death of India’s chief of defence staff has raised eyebrows in India. People in general raised questions about the super-safe Mi-17V5helicopter flew so low as to crash head on against a tree.The people reminisce about the previous accidents, including a fire on India’s aircraft carrier in 2019 and an explosion on an Indian submarine in 2013. They attribute the accidents to rampant incompetence and lack of adherence to Standing Operating procedure.
The gung- ho general was criticised in media for his intemperate statements. For instance he had vowed to change the DNA of Kashmiris. He awarded a commendation certificate to Major Leetul Gogoi who tied a Kashmir to bonnet of his jeep and paraded him around several villages. Gogoi was later caught with her paramour in a Srinagar hotel. But, Rawat set him free with slap on his wrist. He justified lynching of anyone suspected to be a militant. He opposed recruitment of the women in the forces.The controversial general had embarked upon a reform programme which involved readjustment of the three services.
In YouTube interviews, Rawat vehemently defended the integrated theatres of commands. But, the IAF chief expressed reservations about it. It was speculated that the crash might be upshot of the interservice rivalry, reflecting poor coordination between the army and IAF.
Attack on the Christian school
The condition of the other minorities also is miserable. According to a report by human rights groups, more than 300 attacks on Christians took place in first nine months of this year across India, including at least 30 in Karnataka.
Recently, at least 100 members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal vandalized a missionary school in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha district, Ganj Bedosa. Hindutva violence took place while the students of Class 12 were sitting for an exam. School principal Brother Anthony Tynumkal told that mob was armed with iron rods and shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and “bharat mata ki jai” slogans.
In a cataclysmic development, several parties including Dal Khalsa, the Sikh representative organization, convened a conclave of leadership and delegates of struggling minority communities (Kashmiris, Sikhs, Tamils, Nagas, Twiprassa and others) in Amritsar on the World Human Rights Day. They discussed worsening human rights situation in India and occupied Kashmir, and persecution of minorities.
The conclave is construed as emergence of All-India Oppressed People’s Movement.
The conclave inter alia criticised police excesses, growing intolerance, and expressed solidarity with struggling nationalities, peoples and regional identities.
The participants denounced the recent killing of 15 innocent civilians in Nagaland and held the Indian government responsible for such tragic incidents. They called for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act under which the Indian army has been carrying on its reign of terror in various states. They alleged that India is a democracy only in name but actually a totalitarian and Hindu majoritarian state.
They said the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A in the occupied Kashmir followed by curbing of civil liberties and fake encounters proves how totalitarianism and majoritarian regimes distort civil liberties. They also condemned the recent arrest of noted Kashmiri human rights defender, Khurram Parvaiz, by India’s notorious National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The speakers said the apathy of the Indian government towards the anti-CAA movement continues, political prisoners continue to languish in jails across the country, Muslims and Dalits continue to live in a climate of fear due to a sustained hate narrative against them.
The speakers criticized the Modi regime for refusing to recognize the deaths of 700 farmers and Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which 3 farmers and a journalist were crushed to death.
Addressing on the occasion, Atif Gilani, the son of noted Kashmiri intellectual, Professor Syed Abdur Rahman Gilani (late), said that the minority communities will have to struggle together for securing their rights. He said that the fight was on and will definitely succeed.
Neingulo Krome, Secretary of the Nagaland organisation, said though the New Delhi had termed the Nagaland civilian killings by Indian Army as a case of mistaken identity, it was a totally fabricated operation that claimed innocent lives. “The ones who lost lives were local labourers who used to take the same route to reach their work place. After killing them, the forces also tried to brand some civilians as militants by planting weapons and dressing them in camouflage and boots,” he added.
The former secretary general of the organization, Dr Veenuh said after the abolition of Article 370 and 35A in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government had turned a blind eye to the rights of Nagaland residents. He criticised Modi government for reneging the 2015 agreement that recognises Naga people’s separate identity and promises to share the sovereign power.
UN should compel India to allow free access to special procedure mandate holders of the UN Human Rights Council for independent investigations of human rights violations. The Amritsar conclave augurs well for protection of human rights of the minorities as enshrined in Indian constitution. The conclave is Modi’s nightmare. The BJP bagged 31 per cent of the votes cast in 2014 and over 37 per cent in 2019, thanks to the Modi-magic wave. India’s population is 121 crore as per Census 2011. Of it, now the 41.73 per cent `oppressed-movement’ wave appears to have turned against him (Muslim 14.23%, Christians 2.3%, the Scheduled castes (numbering 1108)16.6%, and Scheduled Tribes (744) 8.6%.
Indian Republic Day: A Black Day for Kashmiris
India celebrates ‘Republic Day’ on January 26th every year to commemorate the day when the Constitution of India came into effect, replacing the Government of India Act 1935, and making India a republic. However, it is observed as a ‘black day’ in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) because it marks the day when the Indian government stripped the region of its autonomous status and imposed direct rule from New Delhi. Kashmir has been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence in 1947. The people of Jammu and Kashmir were promised a high degree of autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was in effect until August 2019, when the Indian government revoked it. This autonomy included the right to a separate constitution, a separate flag, and laws that were distinct from the rest of India. However, in practice, the Indian government has been involved in suppressing the political and basic rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and denying them their right to self-determination.
The special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was revoked by the Indian government in 2019, had given the region a high degree of autonomy and protected its distinct identity. The revocation of this special status has led to widespread protests and resentment among the people of the region, who see it as an infringement on their rights and an attempt by the Indian government to suppress their political and cultural identity and right of self-determination.
The Indian government’s handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has also been criticized by international human rights organizations, who in their recent reports have highlighted how the Indian government has been involved in human rights violations of the people of Kashmir, through the use of excessive force, arbitrary arrests, and censorship of the media. International Human Rights Law forbids the unjustified deprivation of life. The right to life is embodied in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is being flagrantly violated in Kashmiri. India has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well (ICCPR). Which hasn’t prevented it from abusing the law, though.
When the Indian government removed Indian Occupied Kashmir’s special status and sent thousands more troops to the area, the situation for the locals of Kashmir became much tougher. Additionally, India reverted to age-old slavery techniques by enforcing a curfew on the helpless population, cutting off the internet and telecommunications, and detaining political figures, leaving 1.47 billion people cut off from the outside world, devoid of fundamental human rights, and living in dread. Since the repeal of Article 370 and the ensuing curfew, there have been reports of nighttime raids in which youngsters have been kidnapped and tortured, as well as of women being harassed. Intentionally violating both international humanitarian law and human rights law, the Indian military has intentionally dismembered, injured, and several times murdered people during this forceful conquest. The Kashmiri diaspora in the UK and Europe observe “Black Day” on January 26th each year to protest the Indian government’s illegal actions in Jammu& Kashmir. This day marks the anniversary of the Indian Constitution coming into effect in 1950, which provides a pretext for the formalization of Indian control over Kashmir, a region that has been the subject of ongoing conflict and human rights abuses. The diaspora uses this day to raise awareness about human rights abuses and the ongoing conflict in the region, and to call for self-determination for the people of Kashmir. They also call on the international community to break the status quo imposed by the fascist Indian government. For instance, the president of Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK president claimed that “the people of Kashmir have challenged India to take out the forces (one million) from the valley and then celebrate the republic day”. Jammu & Kashmir salvation movement president Altaf Ahmed also call the UN for intervention to protect the rights of Kashmiris.
India has long claimed to be the world’s largest democracy and a champion of human rights. However, it has a long history of human rights abuses and political suppression in the region of Kashmir. Despite India’s claims of being the world’s largest democratic state, it has been involved use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, the imposition of strict curfews and internet shutdowns, and the detention of political leaders and activists in the Kashmir region. The Indian government has also been criticized for its heavy-handed tactics in dealing with the insurgency in the region, which has resulted in widespread human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances. The Indian government has also failed to provide the people of Kashmir with basic democratic rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to self-determination.
It is certainly true that the Indian government’s actions in the region of Kashmir have been widely criticized for human rights abuses and the suppression of political dissent. The deployment of a large number of security forces in the region, along with heavy-handed tactics, have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and a lack of protection for the people of Kashmir. This is in contrast to the protection of basic human and democratic rights, which are supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens of India by the Constitution. How a democratic state can be the largest human rights violator? A self-proclaimed secular state which does not give the rights of minorities cannot be a democratic republic state.
The situation in Kashmir raises questions about the Indian government’s commitment to protecting the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion. A democratic state should ensure that all citizens are protected and treated fairly under the law, but the actions of the Indian government in Kashmir suggest that this is not always the case. Similarly, a self-proclaimed secular state like India should ensure that all religious groups are treated fairly, but the Indian government has been criticized for its treatment of minority groups in the country, particularly the Muslim population of Kashmir.
A Brief History of British Imperialism in India
The British Empire
The British Empire or Kingdom was an imperial entity that changed the global order in every way imaginable. The Kingdom of Great Britain was conceived in 1707 when Scotland and Wales joined England under the sovereignty of the Crown. Having ruled for three centuries, its imperialist tendencies had started to show quite early in the 17th century when Britain lay claim to its very first colony in Jamestown, Virginia. Imperial tendencies refer to the aggressive and expansionist ideology that had been donned by the Empire. British imperialism refers to the attempts and following successes of Britain in expanding its power territorially. It did this by infiltrating various regions of the world and forming colonies; though the colonies were self-managed for the most part, they were answerable to the monarchy and were exploited thoroughly without any compensation. Their foreign policy was to self-portray as traders and travelers and then obtain regional control over time. It was a global phenomenon, and it was majorly aided by England’s foray into maritime expansion. Shipping routes were new and undiscovered which led to new lands ripe for exploration and exploitation. There was also a certain rush within the Empire to expand due to the competitive nature of the international system at that time. It was a challenging race for control between England, Spain, France, and Holland.
The colonized regions of the world include North America, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong), Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya), and more. Around sixty-five current nation-states gained independence from the Empire. However, Britain left behind deep scars within the system that are detrimental to progress to this day.
The British monarchy played a dominant role in one of the world’s greatest tragedies – The Transatlantic Slave Trade which lasted from about the 16th century to the 19th century. It altered the geopolitical dimensions of the world through massive population displacements. Even though later on it called for the Abolition (1833) and Emancipation of slavery and slaves – it had been a decisive enough move to alter world history.
The formation of colonies was for both political and economic power. They were sources of power with a combined manpower of over 450 million people. The colonies presented as pure profit as the natives and slates weren’t given adequate fiscal compensation. Working for pennies on the dollar, the indigenous populations were forced to work in less than favorable working conditions for long taxing hours. The major trade from colonies consisted of sugar, spices, silk, cotton, salt, silver, gold, ivory, tobacco, tea, and more. Many of these such as mining metals and extracting sugar are incredibly labor-intensive works.
The empire used various tactics to carve out strongholds in their regions of choice. The establishment of trading companies – Hudson Bay Company and East India Company, and Strait Settlements.
The Britishers have been responsible for most of the socio-cultural divide in the Subcontinent. Before their arrival in 1600s, the region was flourishing under the Mughal Rule with various castes and religions coexisting peacefully. Once the Empire came into control, they sowed seeds of discord amongst the masses along racial and religious lines. The promotion of white supremacy and the English language enveloped the people in a sense of inferiority that still rears its head to this day. The Muslim-Hindu divide became more pronounced after the War of Independence in 1857.
Formation of the East India Company
In the last months of the year 1600, a group of London-based traders asked for a royal charter – a document that essentially brings legal recognition to organizations and declarations and is granted by the monarch of the time, in order to expand their trade to the East Indies via new naval routes. They wanted to set up a new organization called The East India Company in the Indian subcontinent due to its massive potential. The request was granted by Queen Elizabeth I and the merchants set out, headed by James Lancaster. Once they reached it, they had to first request permission to establish their company. Sir Thomas Roe was sent forward to conduct negotiations with Mughal Emperor Jahangir who was eventually won over by the British charm. Finally, the company set up shop in Surat in the first decade of the 17th century.
Entrance into Politics
The initial interest of the Britishers was indeed purely economic and the company was working independently of the Kingdom. However, soon it became a full-blown empire of sorts with its own armed forces and land. They became responsible for almost half the goods being exported out of India. Their trade included spices, silk, cotton, dye, ammunition, glass, clay-made goods, opium, and tea. Their control over the remaining pillars of the state – Military and Politics, was initiated by General Robert Clive. Clive was a member of the EIC who joined the company army and led it to victory against Siraj-ud-Daulah – The Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. As he replaced the Nawab as the new governor of Bengal, it marked the start of British incursion into Indian politics. As another century passed and as India became more valuable to England, the Crown took over ruling in 1857 after the War of Independence, eventually dissolving East India Company in 1874.
The British rule, as known in India – British Raj, was significantly more parasitic than the East India Company was with its ventures. It managed to destroy systems that had been thriving for centuries.
Disregarding Traditional Ways
British economy brought with it a complete disregard for cultural sentimentality and practices. They were in a global race for capital and territory, something which was not compatible with the traditional practices of the Indian people. They were made to abandon their ancestral teachings and ways of craftsmanship to fall in line with the mechanized ways of the British economy. Cheaper machine-made products replaced handmade goods. Those who could not work for hours in factories or toil away on the fields were suddenly out of jobs. There was a massive decline in employment in the vulnerable sectors of society – women, the elderly, and disabled communities.
Forced labor and poor pay weren’t the only means through which British imperialism was ripping Indian society into shreds. There was a hefty price to pay because of their economic policies introduced in 1813, the repercussions of which can still be felt in modern times. The infamous policy of ‘One Way Free Trade’ which was introduced in 1813 set forth a precedent for British trade. According to it, British exports into India were not taxed, nor were they met with any tariffs, while Indian exports were taxed heavily. India was drained. It meant that Britain was working with a pure profit off of Indian resources and labor while actively suppressing any nationalized economy of the subcontinent.
England was front and center in creating and cementing a class divide within India. White supremacy was prevalent and with it came a heavy dose of linguistic racism. English was the primary mode of trade and communication in the upper echelons. The English Education Act was passed in 1835 which got funds reallocated for restructuring educational institutions for the sole purpose of making English the language of instruction and discussion.
Once World War II was initiated in 1939, Britain was up against Axis Powers – Germany, Italy, and Japan. Although it had the support of other Allied powers, still the cost was too high for Britain to bear due to its resources being spread out amongst the colonies all over the world. It directed the cash flows to the war efforts leading to massive famines in India. Overall, during its imperial rule, the Crown contributed to no less than 12 famines in India spanning from the years 1769-1944. The most atrocious one was The Bengal Famine. Lasting for little over a year, this famine set India back decades as it slaughtered millions and led to an internal economic collapse as well, sending many tumbling below the poverty line. The money that could have preserved the masses was instead used to fund arms and ammunition.
The Disintegration of Hindu-Muslim Relations
The British and their colonial legacy are responsible for the religious disharmony that is seen in modern-day India. The Britishers borrowed the divide-and-rule philosophy from Julius Caesar and used it to segregate the communities of India. The Sepoy Mutiny saw a religious fracture in the social fabric of the subcontinent which isolated both Hindus and Muslims – a previously co-habiting community into separate metaphorical corners. It eventually led to the Muslims forming an in-group mentality due to the common suffering. This ‘Us vs Them’ approach led to the 1947 partition and is still visible in modern-day India keeping the socio-religious conflict alive.
Much of the western world and most of Britain especially is built upon the backs of colonial labor. Their infrastructure, factories, and entire social standing are built because of the free and forced labor of the former colonies. Excess taxation and plunder are the only reasons why Britain survived the industrialization of the world and managed to maintain its position at the top.
Hindutva has overshadowed Indian Republic Ideology
India observes Republic Day on January 26 each year to honor the 1950 Constitution of India, which succeeded the Government of India Act (1935) as the country’s governing law. Following decolonization, India’s new constitution was secular, emphasizing a reasonable separation of religion and state matters rather than strict demarcation as in many Western democracies. However, the political victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the late 1990s and past six years of Moodi’s victory, deduced an obvious Hindu interpretation of democracy that differs from the existential western form of democracy. Religious content has increased in India’s electoral environment (BJP). The post-colonial era has conveyed an alternative nationalism, one that is founded not on secular ideas but rather on the idea that Hindu culture and Indian culture are inseparable. Moodi is ready to transform India into a contemporary Hindu version of controlled democracy through his widespread advocacy of Hindutva ideology.
The secularism of the Indian Republic has always been opposed by the Hindutva movement. A significant portion of Muslims were persuaded to remain in India instead of migrating to the newly founded Islamic state of Pakistan because, at the time, independent India proclaimed itself a secular state, offering freedom to all minority groups as well as citizens’ fundamental rights. All those who supported secularism were perished tragically due to the brutality of the rising Hindu extremism. Even Mahatma Gandhi, the most influential Hindu leader, was assassinated by the RSS because of his secular vision. Since then, Hindutva has become the core of every right-wing political group in India, including the RSS, Shiv Sena, Hindu Mahasbha, and BJP, led by Narendra Modi.
Since many years, termite fascism—which rejects equality—has been encroaching on India in the form of Hindutva. Apparently, in present day India, the Hindu Rashtra is theoretically opposed to caste discrimination against political Hindus. Modi’s ordinary beginning and ascension to authority offer conclusive proof of a free and fair modernity. However, in practice, Hindutva is ready to accept the daily coercions that characterize contemporary Indian society. Instead of assuring the due rights of minorities residing in India, the parliament validated the communal, majoritarian, and intolerable Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – 2019 (CAA) followed by Indian High Court’s suspicious decision on the Babri Masjid. By fabricating a “Muslim threat” to support the BJP’s anti-Muslim actions, Hindutva has exacerbated social divisions in India. Undoubtedly, right-wing Hindu nationalism threatens India’s constitutional foundations by establishing a Hindu Rashtra. This includes the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the removal of Kashmir’s autonomous status, and the Kerala hijab ban. Fascism is reshaping itself in India. It has infiltrated Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, and now seriously endangers Indian democracy.
Similarly, the inauguration of a Hindu temple in Ayudha on August 5, 2020 (the same day a year after Article 370 was revoked) in lieu of a Mughal-era mosque razed by a right-wing Hindu mob in 1992. This confirms that the BJP has re-energized Savarkar’s plan of Hindutva as a political religion, although in a decidedly populist tone. Conservatism is now increasingly couched in current class semantics (“rich” and “poor”) rather than ancient caste terminology. Some people are considered more equal than others. Muslims, Christians, Marxists, and anti-caste campaigners are the new targets of prejudice and rejection. Individuals under such categories would be deemed political Hindus if they accepted Hindutva. In the new Hindu government, the lines are porous, and everything is negotiable.
Here, the point of concern is whether secularism would continue to serve India’s central philosophy. Perhaps it would be determined by a confluence of political factors, specifically the BJP’s future electoral success and the tactics the opposition uses to challenge the ruling party. Hindu nationalism is stripping India of one of its greatest strengths at a time when nations all over the world are struggling to deal with religious diversity. Therefore, it may not be incorrect to say that Hindu nationalism has an unquestionable sphere of influence over Indian politics and society, despite its evidently xenophobic emergence under the BJP. In fact, the revival of caste identities, which frequently threaten religious identities, is indirectly detrimental to secularism. The BJP has consistently attempted to adopt discriminatory policies to exploit caste-based individualities. In sum, India’s commitment to secularist republic tradition is now in doubt given the political dominance of the BJP’s trademark of Hindu nationalism.
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