Skip to main content

Patidar leader Hardik Patel, activist Teesta Setalvad targeted thru "overbroad, vague" laws: Human Rights Watch

Hardik Patel
By Rajiv Shah
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has taken strong exception to the Gujarat government using “overbroad and vaguely worded sedition, criminal defamation, and hate speech laws” for “arresting Hardik Patel, who is spearheading protests to demand quotas in education and government jobs for his community, and charged him with sedition in two separate cases.”
Pointing out that the sedition laws are being used across India to “harass and prosecute those expressing dissenting, unpopular, or minority views”, the just released "World Report 2016: Facts of 2015" notes, another law, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), has been used to target human rights activist Teesta Setelvad.
Qualifying action against Setalvad as “politically-motivated intimidation”, the HRW recalls that she “well-known for her work supporting victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots and for seeking criminal charges against scores of officials, including Prime Minister Modi”, who was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002.
The report underscores, “Authorities labeled activists ‘anti-national’ when they questioned government infrastructure and development projects or sought justice for victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.”
Teesta Setalvad
At the same time, the report regrets how the Gujarat government went so far as to help tainted cops: “In 2014 and 2015, several police officials were reinstated in Gujarat despite having been implicated in the alleged 2004 ‘encounter’ killing of 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan and three others, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to police accountability.”
The report, which also gives instances of how the Government of India similarly targeted Greenpeace India and Ford Foundation, using FCRA for alleged foreign funding violations, says, the Indian authorities in 2015, in fact, “intensified their crackdown on civil society”, harassing those who “questioned or criticized government policies.”
Giving these instances, the HRW report criticizes the Government of India for doing little in 2015 to “implement promises by newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to improve respect for religious freedom, protect the rights of women and children, and end abuses against marginalized communities.”
The HRW report states, “Even as the prime minister celebrated Indian democracy abroad, back home civil society groups faced increased harassment and government critics faced intimidation and lawsuits.”
It adds, “Officials warned media against making what they called unsubstantiated allegations against the government, saying it weakened democracy. In several cases, courts reprimanded the government for restricting free expression.”
The report
Especially criticizing “some leaders” of the ruling BJP for making “inflammatory remarks against minorities”, the HRW report puts the blame on what it calls “right-wing Hindu fringe groups”, who “threatened and harassed them”, and in some cases “even attacking them.”
It gives the instance, in this context, of how “four Muslim men were killed by Hindu vigilante groups in separate incidents across the country in 2015 over suspicions that they had killed or stolen cows for beef”.
As for the authorities, the HRW report notes, they “did not press robustly for prosecution of those responsible for violent attacks on minorities, and impunity for the assailants contributed to a sense of government indifference to growing religious intolerance.”
Appreciating Tripura revoking the “draconian” Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), citing a decline in insurgency, the HRW report regrets, “It remains in force in Jammu and Kashmir and in other northeastern states.” AFSPA and similar such laws, it emphasizes, “provide public officials and security forces immunity from prosecution for abuses without prior authorization.”
---
Download HRW report HERE

Comments

Anonymous said…
Typical how this comes out hours before the Hon Supreme Court is to hear Teesta Setalvad's case. Such reports smack of intellectual dishonesty & perhaps the Ms. Setalvad has been urging or even writing these herself ...
Megan Wilson said…
Just read your post, "Patidar leader Hardik Patel, activist Teesta Setalvad targeted thru "overbroad, vague" laws: Human Rights Watch". I thought your post had some fantastic insights into a tragedy against Hardik!

Can you believe that there are currently estimated to be 20,900,000 victims of human trafficking worldwide?! A majority of these people are women and children.

We teamed up with Vound to create a graphic that identifies the problem of Human Trafficking, what is being done to stop it, how to recognize the signs and who to contact to get help.

https://www.vound-software.com/blog/human-trafficking

TRENDING

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.