India witnessed significant human rights violations in 2022: US report
A report by the United States Department of State has listed significant human rights issues in India in 2022, including arbitrary and unlawful killings, violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, and freedom of the press. The annual report, released by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also mentioned violations like extrajudicial killings and inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment by prison officials, among others.
Why does this story matter?
- Issues like press freedom and targeted violence against ethnic and religious minorities have been much-debated topics in India since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government began its reign in 2014.
- Coincidentally, the executive editor of The Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, recently claimed in her op-ed for The New York Times that PM Narendra Modi's "repressive media policies are destroying Kashmiri journalism."
US report flags major rights violations in India
As per the US report, harassment of domestic and international human rights organizations, restrictions on internet freedom, and interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly are among the serious rights violations in the country. It also stated that while citizens generally enjoyed free speech, the government allegedly continued to limit content based on broad national and public interest provisions.
Details on human rights violations in India
Furthermore, the report said there was a lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, such as intimate and domestic partner violence, workplace violence, sexual violence, child and forced marriage, femicide, and other forms of such violence. Crimes involving violence or threats of violence against members of racial, national, minority, and ethnic communities based on social status, religion, and minority affiliation were also listed.
Here's what US annual report said
"There were reports that government authorities accessed, collected, or used private communication arbitrarily or unlawfully or without appropriate legal authority," news agency PTI quoted the US report as saying. "They [also] developed practices that allow for the arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, including the use of technology to arbitrarily or unlawfully surveil or interfere with the privacy of individuals," it added.
For 5th straight year, India topped internet shutdown list
As per a report published by US-based watchdog Access Now in February, India topped the list of countries that cut internet access for the fifth straight year. Of 187 worldwide internet shutdowns last year, India implemented 84. Ukraine followed India at 22, Iran at 18, Myanmar at seven, and Bangladesh at six The watchdog, in its report, flagged internet shutdowns as human rights violations.
Kashmir had 49 internet shutdowns in 2022
Out of the total 84 shutdowns in the country, 49 occurred in Kashmir last year. These were allegedly amid "political instability and violence," the report stated. It also mentioned "a string of 16 back-to-back orders for three-day-long curfew-style shutdowns in January and February 2022" by authorities. Meanwhile, out of the total 187 internet shutdowns globally, 133 happened alongside some form of violence.
Authorities targeted specific groups with shutdown tactic: Report
The report also claimed that governments were improving how they implement internet shutdowns. It said authorities now use shutdowns to target specific groups instead of an entire region. Another common weapon was the targeting of mobile networks, as numerous governments and other actors used mobile networks to quell protests. According to the report, this strategy was used 26 times in 2022.