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REPUBLIC DAY: INDIA'S HIDDEN CRISIS

REPUBLIC DAY: INDIA'S HIDDEN CRISIS

By Sehr Rushmeen

As India commemorates its Republic Day with splendid displays of grandeur and patriotic fervor, it becomes increasingly imperative to recognize the stark disparity between the nation's ostentatious celebrations and the harsh reality of pervasive human rights violations occurring within its borders. This sharp contrast offers a disturbing visuals of a country which once used to be respected for its rich cultural legacy, secularism and democratic traditions ironically however, India of today is seen as contending with an alarming rise in religious discrimination, intolerance, and an unmistakable disrespect for the hallowed tenets of fundamental human rights.


At the heart of this disconcerting narrative, lies the ascension of Hindutva ideology, an extremist brand of Hindu nationalism that fervently seeks to establish a Hindu-centric state, relegating religious minorities to the margins and diminishing their status as equal citizens. The resounding mantra of "Hindu First," advocated vociferously by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has assumed an alarming centrality in Indian politics, casting profound doubts upon the Government's commitment to the cherished ideals of secularism.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emerges as a central protagonist, who is impressed with idolizing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an organization with roots dating back to the 1920s, renowned for its controversial history. The ominous shadow of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi and a fervent adherent of RSS ideology, casts a dark shadow over India's political landscape, underscoring the enduring influence of this organization. More alarming is the covert infiltration of RSS members, fervent supporters of Hindutva ideology, into the core of Indian society. From municipal corporations to media outlets, this infiltration has aided the spread of extremist ideology, culminating in a tangible increase in violence and prejudice against religious minorities.


India's constitution, once celebrated for its resolute commitment to secularism, is now facing scrutiny for the discrimination it perpetuates against religious minorities, particularly Muslims. The glaring disparities witnessed in critical spheres such as education, employment, and political representation serve as poignant reminders of the constitutional failure in protecting the rights and dignity of minorities in an era of nation's constitution-making process.
Internationally, India's image is undergoing a transformation, with growing concerns raised at various global platforms. A recent global round table conference, featuring eminent speakers from Australia, India, Britain, and the United States, has amplified the voices of dissent. The conference has shed light on the erosion of civil liberties, the belligerent behavior of law enforcement agencies, flagrant human rights violations against religious minorities, and the stifling of dissenting voices within Indian landscape and beyond. These concerns are further exacerbated by the harsh crackdown on Sikh farmers' protests and the continuing crisis in IIOJ&K. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan has recently said in an official statement that Indian Intelligence were involved in a Hire-for-Kill murder campaign against innocent Pakistani citizens.


Reports from groups such as Oxfam have revealed severe wealth inequality in India, with a small 1% of the population controlling 40% of the country's wealth. This uncomfortable economic imbalance offers a serious danger to social and economic equilibrium, with the possibility for long-term discontent and conflict. The authoritative reports published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) for the year 2024 provide a somber narrative of the deteriorating human rights scenario in India. They underscore the discriminatory government policies that have inflamed communal violence and fueled ethnic clashes. Alarmingly, Police forces in Indian states governed by the BJP stand accused of inadequately investigating crimes against minorities, further compounding the injustices suffered by victim communities.


The HRW study also sheds light on the Government's continued restrictions on fundamental freedom, such as free expression and peaceful assembly, particularly in IIOJ&K. The epidemic of extrajudicial executions by security agents continues to throw a pall over the region. Meanwhile, human rights critics and advocates, like as Khurram Parvez and Irfan Mehraj, are being arrested on false terrorism charges, underscoring a deliberate and systematic effort to crush civil society activism. The humiliating shadow of torture and extrajudicial killings persists, with the National Human Rights Commission reporting an alarming number of deaths in custody and alleged extrajudicial killings. Perhaps more troubling is the Indian Government's continued refusal to prosecute its Armed Forces personnel, committed in terrible crimes, including murders, weakening public trust in the country's justice system.


Within India, the authorities have intensified their campaign to silence civil society activists, independent journalists, and political dissidents through threats and the imposition of politically motivated charges. The Government's deployment of personal data protection laws and amendments to digital media ethics codes have conferred upon it sweeping powers of unchecked state surveillance, thereby severely compromising media freedom and the right to freedom of expression in digital realm.


As Indians celebrate Republic Day with grandeur and pomp, we must confront the troubling disparity between the country's lavish celebration and the stark reality of widespread human rights violations within its boundaries. This profound incongruity must not be ignored, as it threatens to mask the very nature of a country that, despite its so called cultural tapestry and democratic potential, is having a dark and frightening underbelly.
The international community must seize the opportunity to hold Delhi accountable for these violations and supporting the efforts of those tirelessly striving to uphold the ideals of justice, equality, and the nation's founding principles, even as they are eclipsed by the mounting human rights abuses which cast a dark shadow over the self-proclaimed land of diversity and democracy.

 

Author’s Bio
Sehr Rushmeen, an Islamabad based freelance researcher, with area of research interest in Strategic Nuclear Studies, Artificial Intelligence in Warfare, South China Sea and South Asian Politics. She tweets on @rushmeentweets and can be reached on [email protected]

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