The SAC report says that India’s has been unique in terms of the ‘alarming setbacks’ and that too have ‘taken place at an extraordinary pace’.
According to the South Asia State of Minorities Report 2020, India has become “dangerous and violent space for Muslim minorities” ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government introduced amendments to the Citizenship Act last year.
The Sac annual report observes the status of civic space and personal liberties accessible to citizens of minorities. This report was given based on the situation of people living in South Asian countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Through out the world there is a threat to the civic space, in India has been unique in terms of the “alarming setbacks” that have “taken place at an extraordinary pace, over the span of a few years”.
The minorities feel unsafe after an amendment in the Citizenship Act was passed which opened a pathway for a category of illegal immigrants, specifically leaving out Muslims, in December 2019. While framing the legislation, the government had declared that it intended to create a National Register of Indian Citizens. This declaration has given a clear understanding to render many Muslims stateless.
After assuming power nationally in 2014 , BJP, “unveiled a new and now frontal attack on religious minorities and other vulnerable groups. This has had a chilling effect on civic space for Muslims and Muslim-community-based organisations and activists specifically, said the report.
However, the situation has worsened significantly after BJP returned to power for the second time in May 2019, the report said. It enacted a slew of measures aimed at signalling to Muslims “particularly its will to brutally subjugate”, it added.
Alongside, BJP used the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, as a weapon to regulate foreign donations to entities in India, especially against progressive and minority NGOs.
The report also found that India’s civil society actors, which include human rights lawyers, activists, protestors, academics, journalists, liberal intelligentsia, have “increasingly been under attack” for speaking out against “government excesses and majoritarianism”.
According to the report, human rights defenders have increasingly come under attack for “protesting discriminatory laws and practices have faced restrictions, violence, criminal defamation, detention and harassment”.
It further highlighted the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and alleged human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir since last year.
The report said that “The case of Muslim-majority Kashmir – where regressive constitutional changes in August 2019 were accompanied by a communication blackout, mass detentions, and a movement lockdown –demonstrates how civic space can be sought to be completely erased, within a formal democratic framework,”