The March 3 report by the US-based Freedom House downgrading India’s status from a “free” to “partly free” country has led to predictably acerbic reaction in Delhi. From the Hindu fascist regime of Narendra Modi to its drum-beaters in the media, all have gone berserk.
The report is seen as a major blow to India’s self-crafted image as the world’s largest democracy.
While the report’s two authors, Sarah Repucci and Amy Slipowitz, have highlighted the failings of all countries including China (no surprise there) and the US (under Donald Trump), they have downgraded 73 countries.
Their report, however, is particularly scathing of India’s conduct.
“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its state-level allies continued to crack down on critics during the year , and their response to COVID-19 included a ham-fisted lockdown that resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers. The ruling Hindu nationalist movement also encouraged the scapegoating of Muslims, who were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus and faced attacks by vigilante mobs. Rather than serving as a champion of democratic practice and a counterweight to authoritarian influence from countries such as China, Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism,” the report said.
The Modi regime’s response? “Misleading”, screamed a headline in the regime mouthpiece NDTV that leads the pack in defending every action of Modi and his henchmen.
The regime’s rejoinder to Freedom House report, reproduced by NDTV on March 5 said: “Many states in India are ruled by parties other than the one at the national level, through an election process which is free and fair and which is conducted by an independent election body…”
This is only partly true.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state (population 200 million) is controlled by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Modi at the centre.
While there are 185 million Muslims in India, not one Muslim was given a ticket to run for parliament from Modi’s party.
Instead, during the April-May 2019 elections, Modi’s henchmen threatened Muslims that if they did not vote for the BJP, the party would not give them any rights and expel them from the country.
Since Modi’s re-election in 2019, he has intensified his anti-Muslim campaign.
Innocent Muslims have been attacked and publicly lynched while the police have merely looked on or even joined the Hindu mobs in some instances.
Hindustan Times, another regime drum-beater, enumerated on March 5, seven points that it said the Modi regime had highlighted to rebut the Freedom House report.
It included the misleading claim that many states in India are “ruled by parties other than the one at the national level, through an election process which is free and fair.”
Has that prevented the public lynching of Muslims?
Further, in India’s current parliament, at least 40% members face serious criminal charges such as rape, murder, extortion and other criminal acts.
What kind of an election monitoring body would permit criminals to participate in elections and then sit in parliament?
Not surprisingly, the Freedom House report pointed out: “Political rights and civil liberties in the country have deteriorated since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, with increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks, including lynchings, aimed at Muslims. The decline only accelerated after Modi’s reelection in 2019. Last year, the government intensified its crackdown on protesters opposed to a discriminatory citizenship law and arrested dozens of journalists who aired criticism of the official pandemic response. Judicial independence has also come under strain; in one case, a judge was transferred immediately after reprimanding the police for taking no action during riots in New Delhi that left over 50 people, mostly Muslims, dead.”
India has never been a democracy, much less one claiming to be the world’s “largest”.
How can a country claim to be “free” when discrimination based on Caste—a discriminatory system that puts people into the straitjacket of caste—is still an entrenched feature of social and economic life?
Modi himself honed his murderous skills in the anti-Muslim pogroms of February 2002 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat state.
More than 2,000 Muslim men, women and children were hacked to death or burnt alive while Modi ordered the police not to intervene.
Because of his gory record, Modi was barred entry into the US from 2005 until his election as prime minister in 2014.
That a country would elect a mass murderer speaks volumes for the nature of that society.
Freedom House report is merely the tip of the iceberg of a society based on hatred, oppression and tyranny, especially against religious minorities.