ISLAMABAD: Eight human rights bodies in their joint statement have called upon the European Union leaders to raise the issue of fast deteriorating human rights situation in India during their scheduled summit with the Indian leaders on May 8 in Portugal.
“The European leaders should press the Indian government to reverse its abusive and discriminatory policies and immediately release all human rights defenders and other critics who have been jailed for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” an umbrella of eight human rights bodies said in a press statement released by the Human Rights Watch.
The organisations include the Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, International Dalit Solidarity Network, International Federation for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture.
“Despite the considerable deterioration in the country’s human rights record under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian government had effectively shielded itself from the international scrutiny and reactions that the seriousness of the situation should have warranted,” the statement said.
Summit with Indian leaders slated for 8th
It said the Indian authorities had also enacted discriminatory laws and policies against minorities.
“Muslim and Dalit communities face growing attacks, while authorities fail to take action against BJP leaders who vilify minority communities and BJP supporters who engage in violence.
“The Indian government has imposed harsh and discriminatory restrictions on Muslim-majority areas in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir since revoking the state’s constitutional status in August 2019 and splitting it into two federally governed territories.”
In April, the European Parliament adopted a recommendation on EU-India relations raising serious concerns over human rights violations in India and urging the European leaders to use the coming summit as a platform to relay those messages at the highest level.
The statement said the EU’s long silence on these issues stood in stark contrast with its much more vocal and robust reactions to human rights violations worldwide, “is incompatible with the EU’s recently renewed pledge to speak up and take action whenever and wherever human rights abuses occur”.
The statement said the EU recently resumed its local human rights dialogue with India, which had been suspended for seven years.
While the EU insisted on holding the dialogue as a prerequisite for the leaders’ meeting, the HR organisations cautioned against holding the dialogue as a box-ticking exercise, only aimed at getting rights off the summit’s agenda.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021