Thursday, June 18, 2015

Modi's 365 day rule characterized by 1,618 cases of serious human rights violations: Civil society report

By Our Representative
A new report on one year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule, carrying a compilation of 1,618 incidents of different types of human rights violations across India, has alleged that the last 365 days characterize saffronisation of governance at the Centre, implementation of the Sangh's Parivar’s agenda of coercion, isolation of religious minority groups, and infiltration of administrative structures, police and education.
Released simultaneously at 18 different places all over India, including Ahmedabad, the report, titled “356 Days: Democracy and Secularism Under the Modi Regime” says that Modi rode on “the high-tide of promised development, created by PR agencies and corporate-controlled media, the present regime 'conquered' the hearts and the minds of India with the promised 'Achche Din' (Better Days).”
But what it actually did was to implement the “the experiments perfected in the laboratory of Hindutva successfully exported from Gujarat to various states of India.” Introducing the report, human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi said, “Many of us, who have closely watched the developments and modus operandi of communal forces in Gujarat and elsewhere, have been deeply disturbed but not surprised at the developments of the past year.”
The report carries articles by bureaucrat-turned-activist Harsh Mander on communal trends since May 2014, scholar Ram Punyani on hate speeches over the last one year, Jesuit activist Cedric Prakash on attacks on civil society activism, professors Karen Gabriel and PK Vijayan on saffronisation of education, expert PVS Kumar on paralysis of science and scientific temper, and journalist Seema Mustafa on collapse of the freedom of speech in India.
Commenting on the report, John Dayal, former member of the National Minorities Commission, said, even before he came to power, Modi “marshaled a strong army of activists of RSS and the Sangh Parivar to unleash an election campaign that polarized the electorate through selective targeting of Muslims and Christians.”
“A year later”, he added, “The government admits the development process has not yet commenced despite huge concessions to the corporate sector. The new jobs are yet to materialize. The photo opportunities are of projects started by the previous government, now nearing completion.”
Suresh Mehta
The report says, over the last year at least 43 deaths in over 600 cases of violence, 194 targeting Christians and the rest Muslims, have taken place between May 26, 2014 and May 13, 2015. The number of dead compiled is other than the 108 killed in Assam in attacks on Muslims by armed tribal political groups. “The number of incidents of communally targeted violence could be very much higher, but official records are not available”, it points out.
Speaking on the report, former Gujarat BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta told newspersons, it only suggests India is moving towards a new emergency, as predicted by veteran party leader LK Advani in an interview. Mehta, who resigned from the BJP over differences with Modi, said, the report documents several individual cases of hate speeches, attacks on civil society, attack on freedom of speech, and so on, which suggests the type of days to come.
Comparing Vajpayee and Modi, Mander writes, "There is indeed no ambiguity in Modi's politics, no recourse to poetry and equivocality, unlike the last prime minister to be elected from the BJP Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee himself was not above articulating anti-Muslim or anti-Christian rhetoric from time to time. Yet many still regarded him to be a leader of relative moderation.”
Mander further says, Vajayee’s “communal pointers would always be cloaked in a garb of moderation.” But as for Modi, “never in free India has the public discourse been so poisoned by MPs and ministers of the elected ruling alliance. BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj labels madrassas as 'hubs of terror' fostering love jihad' and 'education of terrorism'. He exhorts Hindu women to bear four children, declaring that in the Modi yug(era), the alleged Muslim practice of having four wives and 40 kids should be forcefully halted.”
In their article Gabriel and Vijayan, both from the Delhi University, say that the effort is to convert the people, especially the young, to the “faith” propagated by the Sangh Parivar to consolidate the core constituency. An important aspect of this process, they say, is that, with full majority, the Modi government is now increasingly able to bring changes at the policy and decision-making levels.

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