Every month, we send a newsletter with news updates containing an overview of politics and human rights in India. You can read the archives here.

 

December 2022: UNSC and G20 Presidency, evidence planted on deceased activist, Christians attacked for Christmas, BJP leaders join mob

India in the World

• On 1 December, India assumed the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Two signature events took place, an open debate on Reformed Multilateralism and a Counter-Terrorism meeting.

• On 1 December, India formally assumed the G20 presidency. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said New Delhi will seek to emerge as the “voice of the Global South”. PM Modi presented the theme of the G20: “One Earth, One Family, One Future”.

• From 4-6 December, German Foreign Minister Baerbock visited India. She and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed the Russian war against Ukraine, cross-border terrorism and they signed a mobility partnership pact, which will make it easier for people to study, do research, and work in each other’s countries.

• On 7 December, Member states of the UN Economic and Social Council voted to grant consultative status to the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN). With 15 years, the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) held the record for the longest pending application in the history of the UN NGO Committee, as India had blocked its application.

• On 26 December, 185 Rohingya refugees were rescued in Aceh, Indonesia, after their boat drifted in the Andaman sea for a month. It was one of five Rohingya boats fleeing the overcrowded refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Approximately 180 Rohingya refugees died. The UNHCR stated that previous calls for intervention were ignored by surrounding countries. Indian diaspora organizations published an open letter appealing to governments for their rescue.

Human Rights Defenders

• On 13 December, a US-based forensic firm found that digital evidence was planted on the computer of Human Rights Defender Father Stan Swamy. Swamy was then arrested, and died in custody in July 2021 while denied bail on medical grounds.

• On 13 December, the Supreme Court extended the house arrest of social activist Gautam Navlakha until the second week of January. On November 10, the Supreme Court allowed Navlakha to be placed under one-month house arrest due to his medical condition. He has been in custody since April 2020 on fabricated charges of supporting terrorism.

Academic freedom

• On December 8, author Farhat Khan received an arrest notice while in hospital and was charged with “insulting religious feelings” with her academic book Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System (2011). Members of the Hindu supremacist ABVP, the student wing of the RSS to which Narendra Modi belongs, had alleged that Khan’s book contains objectionable content against Hindus and Hindu supremacist organizations. Khan is suffering from kidney ailment and needs dialysis on a regular basis.

Hate crimes against minorities

• The government recorded over 2,900 cases of communal or religious rioting in the country between 2017 and 2021.

• Christians were attacked ahead of Christmas. On one day, there were 20 coordinated attacks in the state of Chharrisgarh alone, with 200 people forced from their homes. On 20 December, a Hindu supremacist mob in Gujarat state attacked a man who was distributing chocolates while dressed as Santa Claus.

• On 1 December, the Hindu extremist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), affiliated with the ruling BJP through a common parent entity, released a list of 400 alleged ‘love jihad cases’. Love Jihad is an islamophobic conspiracy theory purporting that Muslim men target Hindu women for forced religious conversion, and the release of the names puts the couples at risk.

• On 4 December, BJP leaders such as minister KC Narayana Gowda and district president Umesh joined a Hindu supremacist mob in an attempt to barge into a mosque in Karnataka and claim it as a Hindu temple. None of the BJP leaders complicit in the violent mob has faced any consequences or condemnation from party leadership.

• On 6 December, police in Uttar Pradesh state, which is ruled by the BJP, allegedly harassed and assaulted Muslims to stop them from casting their votes in the current elections. A number of videos went viral showing Muslim residents reporting about the police allegedly taking away their voter ID cards, and verbally abusing and beating them.

• The Hindu extremist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has announced that swords, knives, and sticks will be distributed freely to BJP members in Uttar Pradesh. Such groups are increasingly offering violent training sessions across India.

• On 14 December, Hindu extremist leader Pravin Togadia stated that India will become a Hindu Nation in which Muslims will have no constitutional rights.

• On 15 December, a video surfaced showing a bus passenger who was brutally assaulted in Southern India by RSS members, an organization to which Narendra Modi belongs. The bus conductor accused him of misbehaving with a woman when he offered to hold her bag and handed him over to the RSS members.

Judiciary 

• On 5 December, the Supreme Court heard a plea seeking directions against ‘forced religious conversion’ and noted that forced religious conversion is a “very serious issue”.

• On 8 December, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by the organization ‘Roots in Kashmir’ seeking a probe into killings of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir during 1989-90 and subsequent years.

• On 14 December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition by a gay couple seeking legal recognition of their marriage in India after their requests have been refused repeatedly.

• On 17 December, the Supreme Court dismissed Bilkis Bano’s plea seeking a review of its May 2022 order which affirmed the early release of 11 convicts who gang-raped her and murdered 14 persons during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat.

• On 20 December, an order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court declared 4,365 houses in Haldwani, north of Delhi, “illegal” and ordered their demolition. This would forcibly evict over 50 000 people. In January, the Supreme Court stayed the order.

Executive

• On 7 December, the Rajya Sabha was informed that the government canceled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) registration of 6,677 NGOs between 2017 and 2021 for alleged violations of the law. Under the FCRA, Amnesty International was previously forced to cease its operations in 2020, leading several countries to recommend India amend the FCRA at the UN Universal Periodic Review.

• On 25 December, BJP MP Pragya Thakur delivered a speech urging attendees of a conference to “keep weapons sharpened” so they can be used if Muslims attack. “Just like how knives cut vegetables, it will also chop mouths and heads,” she said. While her speech was widely condemned, she has faced no consequences from the BJP. Thakur is the prime accused in the Malegaon terror attack in September 2008, was arrested in October that year, and has been out on bail since April 2017 on medical grounds.

• The Election Commission of India concluded that Home Minister Amit Shah’s remark during the Gujarat Assembly election campaign did not violate the model code of conduct. During his November 25 speech, Shah claimed the BJP has “taught a lesson” to rioters since communal violence 20 years ago.

Media and Technology

• In December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited feedback from the public on the draft of the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 published in November. However, more than 70 notable citizens wrote to MPs, such as former Supreme Court judge Justice A.P. Shah and social activist Medha Patkar, expressing concern over the undemocratic manner of this consultation.

 

 

November 2022: Universal Periodic Review, positive developments for two HRDs, violence linked to false allegations of forced conversions, refoulement of refugees, take-over of independent media

India in the World

• On November 10, India’s human rights record was assessed during the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). 130 UN member states issued their recommendations and urged India to increase their efforts to combat gender-based violence, religious discrimination, and religious hatred, and stop the broad application of anti-terrorism legislation.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not attend COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Instead, the Indian delegation at COP27 was led by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, who strongly supported the decision for a climate fund for poorer nations. India, however, is expanding its fossil fuel infrastructure and increasing imports of coal. 

• On November 8, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar indicated that New Delhi would continue purchasing Russian oil as it benefits India’s access “on the most advantageous terms” during the current natural resource crisis.

• On November 14, India abstained from the vote in the UN General Assembly for a resolution that called on holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine. India has also previously abstained from resolutions related to the Russia-Ukraine war.

• On November 15 and 16, Modi attended the G20 Summit held in Bali, which reaffirmed collaboration on food security, international financial resilience, energy security, and other topics. India’s Presidency of the G20 starts on December 1 and will be grounded in the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – Hindi for “one earth, one family, one future”.

Human Rights Defenders

• On November 10, the Supreme Court allowed jailed human rights activist Gautam Navlakha to be placed under one-month house arrest due to his medical condition. Although the Court indicated it would process his release within 48 hours, Navlakha was still in prison until the evening of the 14th. Navlakha has been in custody since April 2020 on fabricated charges of supporting terrorism. 

• On November 18, the Bombay High Court granted bail to Dalit rights activist and scholar Anand Teltumbde. Teltumdbe was arrested in 2020 for his alleged connection to the Bhima Koregaon violence of 2018, and has been repeatedly denied bail

• On November 22, UN experts and several NGOs, including The London Story, called for the immediate and unconditional release of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez. The day marked the 1-year anniversary of Parvez’s arbitrary arrest on terrorism charges. His detention has been prolonged five times by the NIA Special Court under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Judiciary

• On October 31, a court rejected the bail plea of journalist Siddique Kappan. Kappan was arrested in 2020 when traveling to report on the rape of a Dalit girl and is held in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges. Although the Supreme Court granted him bail on September 9 in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act case, he remains in jail.

• On November 9, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was sworn in as the 50th Chief Justice of India. He will have a tenure for two years. Chandrachud is seen as progressive; in the past, his judgments have touched upon crucial issues of fundamental rights, privacy, rights of women, and LGBTQ+.

• On November 30, Bilkis Bano approached the Supreme Court challenging the premature release of the 11 convicts who gang-raped her and murdered members of her family during the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

Hate crime against minorities 

• On November 3, Hindu supremacists assaulted and publicly humiliated two Dalits for allegedly selling beef in Chhattisgarh. They beat the two with a belt and paraded them half-naked, while bystanders filmed the attack.

• On November 29, several men attempted to lynch a Muslim man, Adam Khan, in Maharashtra. Police arrested five men after videos of the assault went viral on social media. Khan has been hospitalized with head injuries and a fractured leg.

Religious freedoms

• On November 14, the Supreme Court termed “forced religious conversion” a serious issue in need of action. However, anti-conversion laws have been criticized for being routinely used to target religious minorities and arrest them on false charges of forced conversion. Hard data is missing on those alleged conversion cases. 

• A false report made by a Hindu supremacist on November 21 led to six Christians being charged for alleged forced conversions in Uttar Pradesh state. Several Christians have now sought action against misuse of the state’s recently enacted anti-conversion law to harass and persecute religious minorities.

• The upcoming Bollywood movie “The Kerala Story” has been condemned for circulating the false claim that over 30,000 Hindu women were converted to Islam and forced to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The wide circulation of the trailer resulted in outrage over the film’s mobilization of anti-Muslim propaganda. Several movies in recent months circulate propaganda against Muslims.

Places of worship

• On November 9, a Karnataka court ruled in favor of the Hindu supremacist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanding to probe an 800-year-old mosque in Mangaluru city. The VHP falsely claims that remnants of a Hindu temple are located in the mosque. Although the management of the mosque had filed a plea to protect the place of worship, it had been rejected in court.

• On November 14, a Varanasi court indicated that it will rule on the validity of a petition that seeks a ban on entry of Muslims to the Gyanvapi Mosque. The petition was filed by Vishwa Vaidik Sanatan Sangh, who also seek permission to worship the “Shivling” (symbol of Hindu God Shiv) claimed to be inside.

State actors who advocate hatred

• On November 14, BJP politician Pratap Simha threatened that he would demolish a bus stand because it resembles a mosque. In response to the threat, the local government changed the appearance of the bus stop. This threat comes against a backdrop of BJP leaders calling for and inciting the destruction of Muslim properties, including places of worship. 

• On November 20, supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed Uttar Pradesh’s openly extremist Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with bulldozers and the Hindu religious chant “Jai Shree Ram” as he arrived in Gujarat state for his election campaign. 

Executive

• In the beginning of November, the Gujarat state Ministry of Home Affairs announced an anti-Muslim citizenship policy. The policy provides Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Christian, and Jain communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh with citizenship certificates, but denies them to Muslims. Critics have called this out as a move to subject Muslims fleeing danger to further persecution and discrimination.

Home Minister Amit Shah ordered intelligence officials to identify 100 refugees (“infiltrators”) in each state and deport them. Shah indicated that this should be continued even if the countries do not accept the refugees back. India has not signed the Refugee Convention and continues to deport Rohingya to Myanmar. Amit Shah has a consistently hostile approach to refugees, as is visible when he in 2019 referred to Rohingya as being termites

• On November 18, Muslim politician leader Azam Khan was stripped of his constitutional right to vote, weeks after he was convicted on charges of hate speech. Critics see this as an attempt to suppress Khan from speaking against the policies of the state’s Hindu supremacist government.

Media and Technology

• On November 17, Meta appointed Sandhya Devanathan as the new upcoming head and vice president of Meta India. Meta also appointed Shivnath Thukral as its new director for public policy in India. Investigations reported that when Thukral was the India and South Asia public policy director at Facebook from 2017 to 2020, he ignored hate speech violations by BJP leaders and had close ties to the BJP

• On November 22, the Adani Group, a conglomerate run by Asia’s richest man Gautam Adani, initiated the process of acquiring a majority stake within the popular media firm NDTV, intending to take it over fully. Experts stated that Adani moving closer to acquire the platform poses a serious threat to independent media because of his strong ties to the BJP government.

 

 

October 2022: 3 Indians nominated for Nobel peace Prize, travel ban on journalist and overturn of acquittal of HRD, police publicly flogs men, BJP leader attacks Dalit, Supreme Court considers hate speech a “very serious issue” 

India in the World

• The UN appointed Indian Dalit Ashwini K.P as the UN Special Rapporteur for Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. Dalits in India face increasingly severe violence. Caste discrimination is formally recognized as discrimination around the world and is especially of concern among the Indian diaspora.

• The EU and India met for the second round of trade negotiations in Brussels. India was skeptical towards the EU’s proposed ‘trade and sustainable development’ chapter, which includes the possibility of resorting to commercial sanctions for non-compliance with core labour standards and with Paris Agreement commitments.

• During his official visit to India from 18-20 October, UN Secretary-General Guterres reminded India of the power of diversity and emphasized the importance of a strong domestic commitment to inclusivity and human rights.

• On 28-29 October, India hosted a UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) special meeting on countering the use of new technologies for terrorist purposes. The resulting ‘Delhi Declaration’ calls for respect for human rights while countering terrorism. Conversely, the UN has previously condemned India’s approach to counter-terrorism for violating human rights law, including the right to a fair trial.

Human Rights Defenders

• The Peace Research Institute Oslo shortlisted Indians Mohammed Zubair, Pratik Sinha, and Harsh Mander for the Nobel Peace Prize 2022. Zubair and Sinha are the co-founders of the fact-check site AltNews. Earlier this year, Zubair was arrested for one month as part of a crackdown on independent journalism, which MEPs publicly condemned. Mander launched a campaign to support victims of hate crimes, but the Indian government has raided his home and the orphanages he founded. 

• On 10 October, Kashmiri political prisoner Altaf Shah passed away in custody. Shah, a Kashmiri leader, was convicted in 2018 for alleged terrorism. He was diagnosed with cancer but did not receive medical attention nor bail on health grounds. Human rights organizations are concerned about human rights in Kashmir, such as over 60 instances of crackdowns on journalists and human rights defenders since August 2019.

• On 15 October, Kashmiri photojournalist and Pulitzer prize winner Sanna Irshad Mattoo was arbitrarily banned from traveling to the US by immigration authorities at Delhi airport, despite having a valid visa and ticket. She was given no official reason. The government has imposed travel bans on at least 22 journalists, several of whom have faced raids, threats, and detention.

• On 15 October, the Supreme Court suspended the order which previously acquitted Human Rights Defender Prof. G.N. Saibaba. In 2014, Saibaba was arrested for his alleged involvement in terrorism, which the initial acquittal order concluded was “bad in law and invalid”. Saibaba is wheelchair-bound and considered 90% disabled. One of Saibaba’s co-accused, Father Stan Swamy, died in custody, which MEPs publicly condemned.

• On 18 October, the Delhi High Court again dismissed the bail application of student activist Umar Khalid. Despite a lack of evidence, Khalid has been in custody for over two years for his alleged conspiracy to incite violence in the February 2020 riots in New Delhi. Earlier this year, MEPs expressed deep concern and demanded Khalid’s immediate release. 

Hate crime against minorities

• On 4 October, police officers tied nine Muslim men to a pole and publicly flogged them in Gujarat for allegedly throwing stones at a Hindu celebration. Videos of the incident went viral on social media platforms, showing that a civilian crowd cheered on the police.

• On 12 October, a Hindu extremist mob attacked Muslims offering prayers in a mosque near Delhi. Surendra Jain, the leader of the VHP, a Hindu supremacist group affiliated with the ruling BJP through a common parent entity, publicly congratulated the mob and said that the extremists “taught the Muslims a lesson.

• On 25 October, a man shot and killed a Dalit man and his parents in Madya Pradesh for allegedly stalking the perpetrator’s wife. 

• On 29 October, several men tied two minors to a vehicle and dragged them on a road in Madhya Pradesh after they allegedly stole from a local market. The boys, aged 13 and 17, have been treated in a hospital and police filed a case against the perpetrators.

• Hindu extremists of the Bajrang Dal group dragged a Muslim man to the police falsely claiming that he lured a Hindu woman into a hotel room. 

State actors endorse hate

• On 19 October, BJP lawmaker Ranbir Gangwa and party leaders from Haryana state attended an online event of rape-and-murder convict and religious cult leader Ram Rahim Singh.

• On 23 October, BJP leader Radheshyam Mishra and others assaulted a Dalit man, blackened his face, and shaved his head after accusing him of theft. Two people have been arrested but Mishra remains on the run.

• India’s Home Minister Amit Shah confirmed the early release of 11 Hindu extremists. The men were previously convicted for gang-raping a Muslim woman and murdering 14 persons during the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat.

Abuses by executive

• On 14 October, a tribunal recovered damages from people who allegedly caused destruction during riots in Khargone in April 2022. A new law authorizes the government to do so through quasi-judicial tribunals, which use principles of natural justice and do not have the safeguards of a criminal trial. Among those on trial is a 12-year-old boy.

• On 26 October, police detained three activists who were opening a museum in the North Eastern state of Assam for their alleged association with terror outfits.

Judiciary

• On 21 October, the Supreme Court called anti-Muslim hate speech in India a “very serious issue” and directed the police to take action in hate speech cases, irrespective of religion of the speaker, and without waiting for a formal complaint to be registered. Hateful anti-minority rhetoric has become commonplace in India. NGOs draw attention to how stakeholders have failed to address hate content and hateful actors targeting religious minorities in India.

• On 27 October, the Supreme Court dismissed Amnesty International’s plea to unfreeze their bank accounts, which previously forced the organization to shut down their operations in the country. 

• On 29 October, the Supreme Court issued notice to the central government regarding a petition to allow women under 35 to have a prenatal diagnostic test. Preventing this, the petition argues, is a restriction on the reproductive rights of women. The case is one of many on women’s rights in recent weeks, such as one on increasing access to abortion. Women’s rights remain dire in India, and the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 ranks India at 140 of 156 countries.

Surveillance and Technology

• On 28 October, the Indian government announced its new Information Technology Amendment Rules 2022, which effectively grants the government control over content moderation decisions of social media platforms. The amended rules provide for the creation of a government panel to hear complaints from social media users. Critics are concerned that this law may open the door to a censorship body, thereby incentivizing platforms to remove content that does not suit the government’s political agenda. 

 

 

September 2022: Journalist denied bail, 8-year-old boy arrested following riots, Hindu supremacist Yati Narsinghanand calls for bombing of University, India votes on Russia in UNSC

Harassment of journalists and HRDs

• Despite being granted bail by the Supreme Court, journalist Siddique Kappan remains in prison as a case by the government’s Enforcement Directorate against him is “still pending.” Kappan was arrested in 2020 when travelling to report on the rape of a Dalit girl and held in pre-trial detention on terrorism charges.

• Police in Gujarat are continuing the judicial harassment of HRD Teesta Setalvad by filing fresh charges against her. She had been arrested in June and accused of fabricating evidence in a petition to the Supreme Court seeking to investigate Prime Minister Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. More than 2.200 writers, activists and other parts of civil society worldwide signed an open letter demanding her release, and MEPs and UN Special Rapporteurs came out in her support.

• Gujarat police arrested four people on September 26 before their march in solidarity with Bilkis Bano, a Muslim woman who was gang-raped and left for dead in a pogrom in 2002. Her convicted attackers had been granted remission in August. After public outcry, the police released one of the marchers, social activist Sandeep Pandey. The V-Dem institute’s data on peaceful assembly shows that India often arbitrarily denies citizens the right to assemble peacefully. 

Foreign policy

• On August 24, India for the first time voted against Russia during a procedural vote at the UN Security Council. India had previously abstained in all votes because of its historical and contemporary ties. India has sharply increased its imports of oil, coal and fertiliser from Russia, while India rarely bought Russian oil before the Ukraine war.

• Indian negotiators reportedly visited Brussels for trade negotiations with the EU. Experts note that many of India’s priorities do not align with those of the EU. 

Diaspora

• International media reported on Indian diaspora mobs in the UK mobilising to “defend the community” in patterns they describe as reminiscent of mob violence in India.

Judiciary

• After a delay of nearly three years, the Supreme Court announced it would begin hearing the over 200 petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2020. Protests against the act had erupted across the country, as its provisions add a religious criterion to citizenship.

• Indian Christian leaders filed a petition with the Supreme Court of India for protection of Christians citing 300 attacks in the first six months of 2022. The Supreme Court then in a welcome move directed eight states to investigate and verify these claims.

• After 10 days of hearing, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on petitions to lift a recent ban on hijab in schools in the state of Karnataka, which de facto prevents Muslims girls from attending school. The choice of clothing falls under the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which can under the Indian Constitution and international human rights law only be infringed upon on grounds of public order.

Violence against minorities

• On September 7, an upper-caste social science teacher assaulted his 10th grade student, a Dalit, for reportedly writing the wrong answers on a test. The boy died soon after. Despite constitutional protections against caste discrimination, discriminatory treatment and violence remains endemic. 

• Following communal violence in Bihar state, police arrested dozens of Muslim men from a local mosque for allegedly inciting violence, including an 8-year-old boy. The family of the boy reported that police demanded money in exchange for his release. He was kept in custody for several days and finally granted bail. He sustained injuries.

• A new report by the Indian government’s National Crime Records Bureau shows that Muslims make up almost 30% of all detainees in Indian prisons in 2021, despite the minority group having a demographic percentage of only 14.2%. In Assam state, 61% of inmates on death row and 49% of those awaiting trial were Muslims.

• A former member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) disclosed that RSS members “carried out many bomb blasts across the country and with the help of biased police and one-sided media blamed them on Muslims. That helped them in 2014 Loksabha [Parliamentary] elections.” Senior members of the Indian government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, are members of the RSS.

• Hate speech and calls to violence against religious minorities continues. Yati Narsinghanand called for the Aligarh Muslim University to be “bombarded”, and for “students associated with these institutions should be lodged in detention centres.” He is a Hindu supremacist leader known for organising Dharam Sansads “religious congregations” where attendees pledged to exterminate Islam in December 2021. 

• Mob violence against religious minorities continues. A Hindu extremist mob attacked a Muslim family travelling through Madhya Pradesh state and filmed the incident. Hindu extremists in Uttar Pradesh attacked a group of Muslim men for praying by the side of the road. Police did not take any action against them, saying only that praying by the road was “not allowed”, which is legally incorrect. 

 

 

June-August 2022 (summer edition): EU-India Human Rights Dialogue, fact-checker and civil rights activist arrested, “bulldozer justice”, new President of India and 75th Independence Day 

• Over the summer, xenophobic violence and discrimination continued to erode Indian civil society, with news of discrimination, mob violence, Islamophobic assaults, plunderings, killings, lynchings and illegal detentions.

• In June, India signed the “Joint Statement of G7 and Partner Countries (2022 Resilient Democracies Statement)”, committing itself to defend democracy and to enable open and pluralistic debates. Ironically, this statement was signed on the same day that the HRD Zubair was arrested (see below). India had already fallen eight ranks in the World Press Freedom Index this year and ranks 150 of 180 countries.

• In June, HRD Mohammed Zubair was arrested for a tweet dating back to 2018 which “insulted Hindu religious beliefs”. He is the co-founder of Alt News, an Indian non-profit fact checking website. Alt News monitors viral social media posts and news to expose manipulations, lies and misinformation used to promote right-wing and Islamophobic narratives, often exposing the government itself. By adding new charges to the original reason for arrest, authorities were able to keep Zubair detained until the Supreme Court finally granted his application for bail in July.

• In June, Indian civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad was arrested. She was accused of fabricating evidence in a petition to the Supreme Court seeking to investigate Prime Minister Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Amnesty India and Human Rights Watch called this is an attack on civil society and HRDs and demanded her release. More than 2.200 writers, activists and other parts of civil society worldwide signed an open letter demanding her release.

• Several BJP-led states in India are demolishing Muslim homes with bulldozers as reprisals for protests without due process. This is backed by BJP politicians, either directly stating that this is a reprisal for participants of the protests, or claiming these demolitions are carried out in efforts against illegal constructions.

• On July 15, the 10th EU-India Human Rights Dialogue took place. Both parties reiterated their commitment to protecting and promoting all human rights and exchanged views about  civil and political rights and their importance in civil society. Meanwhile, critical journalists are prosecuted or kept from travelling abroad and activists are detained under fabricated charges. The human rights organizations FORUM-ASIA, CIVICUS, Front Line Defenders, OMCT and FIDH expressed their disappointment at the failure of the EU to speak up about the continuous attacks on HRDs.

• Droupadi Murmu, a member of the right-wing Hindu supremacist BJP, is the first person from a tribal community to become President of India. This has been criticized as mere tokenism by the BJP to deflect from its policies such as the discriminatory citizenship laws and attempts at implementing draconian forest laws which endanger the livelihood of tribals. While many hope that she can move beyond symbolism and bring attention to the vulnerable position and economic, social and cultural injustices tribes face in Indian society, the role of the Indian President is mainly ceremonial and therefore restricts her potential for bringing about change.

• On the 15th of August, India celebrated 75 years of Independence. Their vision of India was multiethnic and secular, but many fear that this picture of India is increasingly being attacked and replaced by the ideologists of a Hindu nation, which leaves little space for minorities to live freely. Since Modi’s government took power in 2014, legislative, institutional and societal changes have put India on the path towards an autocratic Hindu supremacist state.

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