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Enduring Issues and Challenges of Human Rights in India.

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Introduction

People have been ruled by rulers who followed various systems and types of governance and used their power and authority to oppress the common people throughout history. Only when India gained independence from British control in 1947 and established a democratic system of government did it begin to take on a new face. Despite enacting several laws and regulations and pledging and making pledges to address the issues, India continues to suffer from serious human rights abuses even after 70 years of independence.

Despite its status as the world’s biggest sovereign, secular, and democratic republic, India’s human rights are hampered by the country’s enormous size and population, widespread poverty, lack of adequate education, and varied culture. India’s Constitution guarantees fundamental liberties, including religious freedom. Freedom of expression, separation of powers between the government and judiciary, and freedom of travel both inside and outside the country are all included in the clauses. The country also has an independent judiciary and agencies that investigate human rights violations.

Human Rights refers to some basic or fundamental rights that are fundamental for mankind and are guaranteed to every member of our society, regardless of caste, creed, color, ethnicity, origin, sex, religion, or other factors. Human rights have as their primary goal the protection of human life and liberty, the preservation of human dignity, the promotion of healthy growth, and the maintenance of equality. Human rights abuses in India are on par with violations of the democratic ideals established in the Indian constitution. Human rights are no longer the domain of a single country but have become a global problem. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations approved a charter of human rights for the protection of human rights, and on December 10, 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the protection of human rights. Despite the fact that India was a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, abuses and atrocities continue to occur. The Indian government established the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) in 1993 in response to widespread human rights violations such as extrajudicial murders, custodial deaths, and atrocities by security forces, notably in Kashmir. Because of the economic and political interests of politicians, large businesses, and power-hungry people, people’s basic and fundamental rights are denied. There have been countless instances of human rights abuses, some of which are included here.

RELIGIOUS BRUTALITY

Since India gained independence from British control, communal clashes between religious groups (primarily between Hindus and Muslims) have been common. During the partition of India between Hindus/Sikhs and Muslims, communal riots occurred, with huge numbers of people murdered in wide-scale violence.

Sikhs were killed in India during the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, which lasted four days. More than 2,000 people were murdered, according to some estimates. Investigations by different committees formed by the government and independent civil society organizations have revealed that Indira Gandhi’s Congress party was involved. Other incidents include the Hashimpura massacre in Meerut during communal riots in 1987, when 19 members of the Provincial Armed Constabulary allegedly shot 42 Muslim youths in cold blood and dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal, the 1992 Bombay riots, and the 2020 Delhi riots, which killed 51 people, 36 of whom were Muslims and 15 of whom were Hindus. The disturbances are thought to have been sparked by Kapil Mishra, a BJP member from Delhi, who gave a threatening speech and issued an ultimatum to nonviolent anti-CAA protestors. During the Delhi riots, the Supreme Court of India criticized the Delhi police for “unprofessionalism,” implying that the police were waiting for instructions from the Central Government of India, led by the Bhartiya Janata Party, rather than acting freely and honestly. The Gujarat riots of 2002 left 1,044 people dead, 223 people missing, and 2,500 people wounded, according to government estimates. There were 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus among the deceased. According to unofficial reports, up to 2,000 people died. Rape was reported, as was the burning alive of children, as well as extensive looting and property damage. The Godhra train fire, in which 59 persons (mainly coming from Ayodhya after a religious celebration at the Babri Masjid destruction site) were killed, is said to have sparked the violence. Following that, fake reports circulated in local media suggesting an ISI involvement in the assaults and that local Muslims cooperated with them, as well as bogus accounts of Hindu women being kidnapped and raped by Muslims, further inflamed the situation. According to many accounts, the attacks were well-coordinated, using mobile phones and government-issued printouts identifying Muslim houses and businesses. Despite the fact that several victims called the police, officers warned them that “we have no instructions to help you.” In several cases, the police led the charge, shooting Muslims who stepped in the path of the crowds. On the first day of the carnage, a senior Bhartiya Janata Party state minister is said to have taken control of police control rooms in Ahmedabad, ordering orders to ignore Muslim cries for help. Meanwhile, sections of the Gujarati language press published false reports and remarks publicly calling on Hindus to revenge the Godhra attacks. In numerous cases, the police led the victims straight into the hands of their assassins under the pretext of assisting them. Narendra Modi, the then-Chief Minister of Gujarat, was exonerated of the charges leveled against him by a local court following an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team. Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ahsan Jafri, a veteran Congress leader, was assassinated by a mob in Ahmedabad, has questioned the claim. Ms. Jafri stated that the inquiry had enough evidence to charge Mr. Modi and 62 others. Following that, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition contesting Modi’s clean cheating. India was identified as a Country of Particular Concern in the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2020 report.[1]

INCIDENTS THAT INFRINGED HUMAN RIGHTS

Tragically, the number of cases of human rights abuses has risen dramatically in recent years. Consensual decisions and freedom of expression have devolved into a felony.

The Indore-Patna worst railway disaster, which occurred on November 20, 2016, was another occurrence that violated people’s right to security. More than 150 individuals were killed in the disaster, and over 200 more were wounded. This was one of the year’s most fatal derailments. It was one of the most serious train accidents in the last six years. The main cause of this deadly tragedy was the careless behavior of our country’s politicians, who are responsible for the safety of the people. Because of their careless attitude and leniency toward their work, the innocent people who voted for such a politician to represent them had to pay the price with their lives.

Custodial death instances, in which detainees or inmates were murdered or died while in police or court custody, continued to be reported. The National Campaign Against Torture announced in June that 125 people had died in police detention in 2019. According to the study, 74% of the deaths were caused by suspected torture or foul play, whereas 19% of the incidents took place in questionable conditions. Uttar Pradesh had the greatest number of people in detention, with 14, followed by Tamil Nadu and Punjab, each with 11 fatalities. 

Many gruesome incidents have taken place in India. One major incident caught everyone’s attention during this pandemic. Ponraj Jeyaraj and his son, Beniks Jeyaraj, died in police custody on June 23 in Tamil Nadu. The two men were detained when their store remained open after lockdown hours, in violation of COVID-19 laws. They were beaten by police while in detention, and they died as a result of their injuries at a prison medical facility. Ten policemen engaged in the detention were arrested by state law enforcement agencies. The Tamil Nadu state government stated that the victims’ families will get two million rupees in cash compensation. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the state government’s human rights commission are still looking into the matter. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) issued the Prison Statistics of India (PSI) 2019 report in August, revealing that 1,775 inmates died in judicial custody in 2019.

During the COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, which lasted from March 25 to April 30, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) published a record of 15 deaths, including deaths caused by disproportionate police action including canings and beatings. [2]

ISSUES CONCERNING CASTE

Caste’s power in modern India, on the other hand, is beginning to wane. This is due in part to the expansion of education to all castes, which has democratized the political system. This “leveling” of the playing field, however, has not been without criticism. The Mandal Commission’s quota system has been a particularly touchy subject. Professor Dipankar Gupta claims that the importance of castes in Indian elections has been exaggerated.

Caste politics have shifted significantly, owing largely to India’s economic liberalization. In certain areas, the rise in lower-caste empowerment was accompanied by an increase in corruption.

POLICE BRUTALITY

According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, about four individuals died every day while in police detention from 2002 to 2008, with “hundreds” of those fatalities attributed to police torture. According to research published by Punjab’s Institute of Correctional Administration, up to half of the country’s police personnel have used physical or mental abuse on detainees.  Torture has also been recorded in West Bengal, for example, due to a lack of cleanliness, space, or water.

According to a study released by the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT), an international human rights organization, India had 1,731 prison fatalities in 2019. Victims were primarily Dalits, Muslims, and Adivasis from disadvantaged groups. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded an average of 139 police detention cases and 1,576 judicial custody cases each year from 2009 to 2019. In the eight years leading up to 2019-20, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) documented moreover 1,500 fatalities in judicial detention per year.

CONCLUSION

Given the increasing form and scope of crimes, there is an urgent need to focus greater attention on women’s concerns, especially Dalit and other vulnerable populations. Women’s empowerment is now being addressed as a human rights problem. It is past time for women in our culture to be treated equally to males in all aspects of life. In recent years, India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has made significant progress, particularly in law reforms affecting the treatment of women, Dalits, and other disadvantaged groups. PM Narendra Modi’s programs include “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,” “UJJAWALA,” a comprehensive program for the prevention and rescue of human trafficking, and the “Stand-up India” scheme for women, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes, among others. Despite the government’s many plans, laws, and Acts, the government continues to fall short in many areas, both in terms of legislative change and execution. The government still has to pay greater attention to its laws and policies and ensure that they are effectively implemented. There is an urgent need to educate women, children, youth, and other members of the public about human rights and how to break free from their chains.


[1] Jyoti Sharma, Present Human Rights Issues and Challenges in India, Legal Desire (March 26, 2017)

[2] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2020

United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

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