The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Indian government continued with state policies that discriminate and stigmatise religious and other minorities resulting in increasing incidents of communal violence in many parts of the country. In Manipur more than hundred were killed in ethnic clashes. The police in many states have failed to properly investigate crimes against minorities on the other hand police and administrative officials responded by summarily punishing victims.

Constitutional authorities like the Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission, and those designed to protect the rights of children, women, religious minorities, tribal groups, and Dalits, did not function independently. All independent democratic institutions including the judicial system are now undermined by the Government of India.

Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings continued, with the National Human Rights Commission registering 126 deaths in police custody, 1,673 deaths in judicial custody, and 55 alleged extrajudicial killings in the first nine months in 2023. In April, 2023, the Indian government denied permission to prosecute soldiers accused of killing six coal miners in Nagaland state’s Mon district in December 2021. In June 2022, the state police had filed charges against 30 soldiers, including a major, after a special investigation team found the military had shot the miners “with a clear intention to kill.” But the central government refused to sanction the prosecution, which is required for civilian legal actions to proceed under the colonial-era Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

On July 31, 2023, communal violence broke out in Nuh, Haryana state during a Hindu procession and swiftly spread to several adjoining districts. In the aftermath, the authorities illegally demolished hundreds of Muslim properties and detained scores of Muslim men, including minors.

On May 3, 2023, violence erupted in the north-eastern state of Manipur between the majority Meitei and the minority Kuki Zo communities. The authorities shut down internet access in the state, and tried actively to suppress any reporting on the state’s partisan participation in this ethnic clash, even filing criminal cases against activists and the Editors’ Guild of India in retaliation for their fact-finding efforts and reporting. By November, more than 200 people were killed, tens of thousands displaced, and hundreds of homes and churches destroyed; and ethnic violence continues to rage in Manipur to this date. Despite courageous reporting of this ongoing morbid massacre, as well as growing public pressure to intervene and put a stop to this wanton killing, the BJP-led governments at both the Centre and in Manipur have continued their tactical inaction as well as covert local support to Meitei militant outfits, whereas the NHRC has remained entirely mum, and failed even to issue any observation or directive to the respective authorities to act.

We saw an alarmingly growing trend of police raids on human rights activists, lawyers, reporters and

organisations who have been critical of the BJP-led central government, in effect flouting Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees Freedom of opinion. Police raided the offices of the news agency NewsClick in New Delhi (October, 2023), the house of human rights activist Teesta Seetalvad in Mumbai, among others, and threatened to prosecute writer and activist Arundhati Roy; Indian tax officials raided the BBC offices (February, 2023) in retaliation of the release of the documentary, India: the Modi Question, that brought to question PM Modi’s abuse of power as erstwhile CM, Gujarat in enabling the Gujarat pogrom.

The government has further expanded its control over online content through the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, April, 2023, and the Telecommunications Act, December, 2023 – both undermining basic privacy rights of citizens as well as granting the central government broad authority of censorship, seizure of office and equipment, and

annexure or suspension of communication services including telephone and internet connection services.

In August 2023, the Indian Parliament passed the Forest Conservation Amendment Act, despite vocal opposition from environmental activists and tribal communities. The law dilutes existing safeguards and could lead to a loss of legal protection for one-quarter of Indian forests—enabling industry, mining, and infrastructure development in formerly protected areas—and threatens encroachment on tribal communities’ traditional territories.

Indian authorities has repeatedly delayed the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse (surfaced in April, 2023) by a member of parliament from the ruling BJP and the president of the Wrestling Federation of India, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, despite weeks of protest by athletes. In October 2023, the Supreme Court declined to legalise same-sex marriages, instead accepting the government’s offer to set up a panel to consider granting certain benefits associated with marriage to same-sex couples.

In the Global Hunger Index 2023, India ranked 111th out of 125 countries, continuing its downward trend in this index from 2015, and marked with a serious level of hunger and malnutrition. Neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan (102nd), Bangladesh (81st), Nepal (69th), and Sri Lanka (60th), scored better than India.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. At the same time, the Ministry has reduced BSF’s area of operation in Gujarat from 80 km from the border, to 50 km. This matter was decided through arbitrary procedure, circumnavigating due discussion in parliament and with the federal state governments. The BSF’s powers – which include arrest, search and seizure – were limited to up to 15 km in these states, until 2023. This is a severe infringement on the rights of the federal states and an attack on the federal structure of the country, as well as an extended threat to the human rights of a huge number of people.

Article 51A(h) of our Constitution says “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. But the BJP government’s discriminatory and divisive policies have on one hand led to increased violence against minority people in the country marginalised by religion, caste, ethnicity, gender, and social markers; on the other hand, they have used the judiciary and the executive as antagonistic forces – harassing, impeding, threatening, and punishing journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, and critics of the government in general – through raids, allegations of financial irregularities, and use of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which regulates foreign funding of non-governmental organisations. Basic human rights and democratic rights of citizens, as well as fundamental constitutional principles – have been rampantly trampled over in pursuit of absolute state-authority, in a display of increasing autocratic tendencies of the government both at the union centre and in the federal states. BJP-led Narendra Modi government at the Centre is ushering in an “agency raj” in the country – disenfranchising marginalized people, throttling dissenting voices and shaking the very foundations of democracy.

Similarly, the non-BJP state governments of Indian provinces have also failed to create any credential for them as far as democracy, rule of law and freedom of expression are concerned. Use of unlawful force, corrupt practices, state agencies to run a totalitarian regime is common in every Indian province.

The scenario of democracy and human rights in neighboring countries is no different; attacks on dissenting voices and religious minorities are the pattern in common in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Human Rights Defenders and protagonists of democracy are facing intimidation, torture and wrath of the state while agitating for people’s cause.

General elections are expected to be held in India between April and May 2024 to elect members of the Lok Sabha, in this political juncture, we wish to create a formidable people centric coalition which can challenge the ongoing onslaught on the constitutional fabric of India and democracy.

The report can be read in its entirety at

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