Human Rights

Anger, lawlessness spread across India


There is anger on the streets. Nah, it isn’t the routine sort of anger but gone much beyond. What was seen last Sunday in the Kashmir Valley was nothing short of people’s rage against the State. Amidst those killings and firings, what stood out was sheer anger. Earlier, that is in those earlier held elections, the Kashmiris had made it rather stark – they voted only and only for better civic facilities. But now, in today’s scenario, with hundreds dead and blinded, there’s little to vote for. As a young Kashmiri told me, “What use are these new tunnels or roads when we are getting killed…in the last few months all that I have seen are graves and graveyards and the dying in hospital wards.” Another young boy added, “The utter lies that these politicians are coming up with! That Parliamentarian delegation and the other group led by Yashwant Sinha was more to hoodwink. Tell me what betterment has come about? There is no free movement. Connectivity snapped. No political dialogue. No lessening of violations. What’s our future? I’m living in this state of siege ever since I was born!”

Anger is reaching the streets of New Delhi. What, with farmers from Tamil Nadu stripping in the capital in full public view in sheer agony! Imagine, providers of our daily bread reduced to such a pathetic condition that they are squatting in Lutyens’ Delhi to plead to the political rulers for the very survival of their fields and families. Parched lie not just their lands but also their lives.

And if you talk to butchers and meat-suppliers and dairy-owners, they tell me of that age old theory: if you force a man to go hungry he will either die or else he will start eating your flesh! What, with hundreds sitting jobless, there is every possibility of hunger-related deaths going up the graph. Also, crime is sure to go up as frustration levels are mounting…Added connected dimension is the new ruling on food consumption. Government is now even ‘fixing’ the amount you can get to eat at restaurants. Order only this much and not that much! In fact, this brings me to quip: doesn’t this government have to deal with many more serious issues than control the spread on my platter! All this rationing of food portions could have been legitimate if it was free supply of food from government-run canteens or community kitchens but not where private-run restaurants and hotels are concerned. This bizarre move reeks of dictatorship-cum-policing of the weirdest sorts. Soon paunchy police-wallahs will be seen loitering around restaurants, keeping a watch on the rotis. Ah, yes, also poking the meat balls; making sure none of the banned beef brands around.

Flyers are fuming after Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad’s wings weren’t clipped. Can a parliamentarian assault and then get away as though nothing really took place? Also, let us not overlook the possibility of the likes of Gaikwad rushing into cockpits, assaulting the pilots and co-pilots. Or else breaking the window glass by the sandals in their grip and flinging out babies and just about anybody who comes in their way.

The sane are once again taken aback to see the BJP MLA from the Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad, T Raja Singh, get away even after mouthing death threats to all those who come in way of the Ram Temple construction. “If there is anybody who has the guts to say he would stop the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, let him come forward. I challenge that I will behead him.” In the video clip, which emerged on April 5, Raja Singh was also heard saying, “Until now, Uttar Pradesh had witnessed timid governments. Now, you have the powerful government (baap ki sarkaar). Nobody can stop construction of Ram mandir now. Ram sevaks from all parts of the country will descend on UP to construct the temple. By next Ram Navami, we shall have the Ram mandir at Ayodhya” …Yet this communal creature sits untouched!

Rohingyas in India face expulsion

And there’s sorrow spreading out in the pathetic refugee camps as news reports suggest that Government of India is planning to forcibly deport thousands of Rohinga refugees from the different states of India. It will be human rights violation as these hapless men and women and children fled Myanmar in the worst of conditions and are living here in sub-human conditions, yet even that seems getting snatched. The government is talking of deporting them despite the fact that they have the protection of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees which has issued them identity cards which protect their status as refugees. To quote Amnesty International India on this,

“Any measures taken by Indian authorities to forcibly return Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers to Myanmar, where they are at risk of serious human rights violations, would be a flagrant violation of international law…Sending Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar - where the community has faced horrific abuses - would not just be a violation of India’s commitments under international law, but also a blemish on India’s history of supporting those fleeing persecution…Rohingya Muslims, who are among the most persecuted minorities in the world, have faced years of discrimination, repression and violence in Myanmar. In December 2016, Amnesty International documented a brutal campaign of violence against the Rohingya by security forces in Myanmar, which could amount to crimes against humanity. The organization found evidence of a wide range of human rights violations in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State, including unlawful killings, multiple rapes, and the burning down of hundreds of Rohingya homes and buildings. Forcing Rohingya asylum-seekers and refugees back to Myanmar would violate the international principle of non-refoulement - which is recognized in customary international law and is binding on India - that forbids states from forcibly returning people to a country where they would be at real risk of serious human rights violations. India is also a state party to other international treaties which recognize this principle, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Indian authorities know very well the abuses the Rohingya community have been facing in Myanmar. Deporting them and abandoning them to their fate would be unconscionable.”

In fact, Amnesty International India has also highlighted a very significant factor. I quote, “As a country aspiring to a larger global role, India needs to urgently sign the Refugee Convention and put in place a robust domestic framework to protect refugee rights…Despite being home to thousands of refugees, India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and does not have a domestic legal refugee protection framework. The treatment of refugees falls largely under the Foreigners Act of 1946, which makes no distinction between asylum-seekers, refugees and other foreigners. The Act makes undocumented physical presence in the country a crime. The Indian government has mandated the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to register and provide assistance to refugees from non-neighbouring countries and Myanmar. According to UNHCR, there are around 14,000 registered Rohingya people in India, including 3,000 asylum-seekers and 11,000 who have been granted refugee status by the organization. However, the Indian government does not officially recognize these people as refugees. In February, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report which documented the human rights violations against Rohingya people. In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar presented her latest findings on human rights violations in Myanmar. Reports of the Special Rapporteur, the OHCHR, Amnesty International and other organizations have found that Rohingya women and girls have been raped, hundreds of people forcibly disappeared and an unknown number killed by security forces in Myanmar. Tens of thousands of Rohingya people have been displaced – many after their homes were burned to the ground by state security forces…In March, India, at the UN Human Rights Council, also supported through consensus the creation of an international fact-finding mission to look into human rights violations in Rakhine state.”

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