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

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.