London: Amnesty International on Wednesday criticized the Indian government for using the “crude, colonial-era" sedition law to “silence" its critics. In its annual human rights report, the UK-based NGO said, “Human rights activists and journalists (in India) faced intimidation and attacks from both state and non-state actors."
The report mentioned a crackdown on civil society organisations with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act or FCRA being repeatedly invoked to “harass organisations that receive foreign funding". “The crude, colonial-era sedition law was unleashed to silence government critics," it added.
“Caste-based violence and vigilante cow protection groups harassing and attacking people in states including Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in the name of upholding laws prohibiting the killing of cows were also highlighted as areas of concern," it said.
“Tensions between India and Pakistan intensified following an attack by gunmen on an army base in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu & Kashmir state witnessed months of curfew and a range of human rights violations by authorities," the report claimed.
The report also highlighted the consequences of the Indian government’s move to ban large currency notes. “A ban on India’s largest currency bills, intended as a crackdown on the country’s black market, severely affected the livelihoods of millions," the report notes.
On a global level, the report covering 159 countries condemns the growth of “politics of demonisation" which was breeding division and fear around the world.
Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said: “Today’s politics of demonisation shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others... Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs.
“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s."
At a regional level in South Asia, the rights group claimed a worrying rollback of human rights as various governments invoked sovereignty and security to threaten freedoms.
Amnesty International has warned that this year will see the ongoing global crises exacerbated by a debilitating absence of human rights leadership on a chaotic world stage. Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Central America, Central African Republic, Burundi, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan as among the crises areas and its annual report documents war crimes committed in at least 23 countries in 2016. PTI