Skip to main content

Condemn CAA, NRC, police brutality: US South Asia lawyers to American counterparts

Counterview Desk
Several human and civil rights lawyers of South Asian descent, expressing "grave concern" about alleged legal abuses and human rights atrocities in India, have said that “the crisis unfolding in India today is rooted in a long history of impunity and failed democratic institutions.”
Commenting on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the unprecedented crackdown on protests against the two as also actions in Kashmir by government authorities, they regretted, India has not been able to keep its minorities safe, adding, violence against the marginalised has become commonplace.
Exhorting US lawmakers to raise their voice and take action by condemning tCAA and NRC, and demanding that legal observers and foreign journalists be allowed complete access in Kashmir, in a statement they said, “The BJP and Prime Minister Modi have built upon this troubled history with a Hindutva nationalist agenda.”

Text:

We, the undersigned, are civil and human rights lawyers of South Asian origin living in the United States. We are deeply committed to dismantling systems of oppression and supremacy, and to uplifting and advocating for the rights of individuals who are marginalised, excluded, and targeted through unfair and inhumane laws, policies and systems.
We have grave concerns about the ongoing legal abuses and human rights atrocities occurring in India and Kashmir today. We express our solidarity with the people of India and Kashmir who are engaging in peaceful dissent and facing arbitrary arrest and violence.
We lend our support to lawyers and legal workers in India and Kashmir who are playing critical roles as first responders, jailhouse lawyers, and constitutional defenders. And, we call upon leaders in the United States including elected officials and business, civic, and faith leaders to provide messages and actions of solidarity aligned with the demands of directly affected communities.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Indians have protested the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which openly discriminates against Muslim migrants on the basis of faith. The bill gives Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who settled in India prior to 2015 the right to apply for citizenship, but excludes Muslims, including minority sects, such as the Ahmadiyya from Pakistan and the Hazaras from Afghanistan.
The law also excludes persecuted religious minorities from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Tibet. The CAA violates the Indian Constitution and international human rights law, leading the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights to deem it “fundamentally discriminatory.”
The National Register of Citizens (NRC), the sister effort to CAA, is equally alarming. The government describes the NRC, which is already underway in the state of Assam, as a census, but it is a policy of forced displacement. The Assamese were asked to prove their Indian citizenship by providing documentary proof that they or their ancestors lived in India prior to 1971, evidence that in many cases does not exist.
In August, the government published a list that excluded 1.9 million people that it claims did not have the necessary paperwork, rendering them vulnerable to statelessness. Many are Muslims, women, children, and the impoverished, who now fear that they will be detained and deported. The combined effect of the CAA and the NRC is to potentially render stateless the 200 million Muslims living in India, which has the second largest Muslim population in the world.
The Indian government has simultaneously pursued a policy of annexation and mass deprivation in Kashmir. On August 5, India revoked the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir without legal foundation or consultation with the people, depriving them of their constitutional right to self determination.
Security forces have arrested thousands of Kashmiris, including children as young as nine, without cause. Many are detained under the Public Safety Act, which allows for two years of detention without trial. Detainees who have been released have alleged brutal torture. 
The government has simultaneously imposed a series of curfews and a communication blockade on the region, and the internet and many phone lines remain cut off. UN experts have called the blackout “collective punishment” and “inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality.”
State officials have responded to widespread protest with overreach, including preventive detentions, internet blackouts, intimidation of journalists and protesters, and the use of draconian laws such as Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits assembly of five or more people, and the National Security Act, which allows the state to detain individuals for one year on the grounds of national security.
BJP and Modi have built upon troubled history with Hindutva nationalist agenda. They seek to create a Hindu state
There have also been unspeakable acts of police violence, including against students at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and other campuses across the country, leaving many injured, maimed, and even dead. 
In the state of Uttar Pradesh, there have been reports of violence by police and civilian mobs harassing, beating, and torturing Muslims, and looting their property; some accounts place the death toll in the state in the dozens.
The Indian Civil Liberties Union, a coalition of lawyers and activists providing grassroots support, estimates that nearly 5,500 people have been detained in India in recent weeks and over 1,600 have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh alone.
The crisis unfolding in India today is rooted in a long history of impunity and failed democratic institutions. Lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and Christians have become so commonplace that they are often organised on social media and the videos uploaded online. Rarely does the government hold the perpetrators accountable. 
The government can unilaterally declare a person a terrorist without due process, and journalists and lawyers who have criticised the government have been threatened, arrested, and assaulted.
In addition, there has yet to be accountability for the 2002 Gujarat massacres, during which mobs slaughtered 2,000 Muslims and displaced thousands; the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984, in which mobs murdered 17,000 Sikhs across 40 cities with the support of the police and Congress Party; and decades of gross violations in Punjab and Kashmir, where security forces engaged in torture, unlawful killings, and enforced disappearances.
The BJP and Prime Minister Modi have built upon this troubled history with a Hindutva nationalist agenda. They seek to create a Hindu state, where Hindus enjoy a privileged status, and minorities, especially Muslims and Dalits, are second-class citizens. 
The long arm of Hindu fascism has extended to the United States as well, as the Hindu right is attempting to rewrite descriptions of Hinduism in textbooks, fund university endowments, and influence overseas elections.
We urge American lawmakers to speak up and take action in the following ways:
  • Condemn the CAA, NRC, and police brutality;
  • Denounce unnecessary and excessive infringements on civil liberties, including government imposed internet blackouts;
  • Urge India to adopt a robust asylum system based on the principles of dignity, equality, and non-discrimination and pass comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to ensure that all Indians enjoy the same rights, privileges and immunities;
  • Demand that India allow legal observers and foreign journalists unfettered access into Kashmir, end all abuses and atrocities in the region, and support the Kashmiris’ right to self determination;
  • Meet with their constituents from Indian minority communities to better assess their ongoing needs; and
  • Hold hearings to investigate how Hindu nationalism has contributed to acts of repression and violence in India and its growing influence in the United States.
As civil and human rights lawyers of South Asian descent who are committed to advocating for the dignity and humanity of all people, we will not be silent as India continues down a path of abandoning fundamental rights and pursuing policies of marginalisation, exclusion, discrimination, and violence. We urge all people of conscience to uplift the demands of Indian protesters and raise their voices in solidarity and support.
---
Click here for list of signatories

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

PLFS data: Is rising employment good news? Deeper analysis suggests contrary results

By Ishwar Chandra Awasthi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav*  Results of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2020-21 , released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GoI) on June 14, 2022, show improvement in work force participation rate (WPR) and labour force participation rate (LFPR) and declining unemployment rate. Four rounds of data have been released from 2017-18 to 2020-21 based on PLFS. The general trend in the last four rounds clearly shows consistent increase in WPR and LFPR and falling unemployment rates by usual status (PS+SS). Though increase in WPR and LFPR is reported highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19, yet rising trend in these two key indicators continues throughout, and similarly fall in unemployment is registered highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19. Clearly, the recent results give some solace and relief after unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has entailed enormous loss of human lives and livelihoods and crippled economic activit

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria