Continued, systematic vilification of minorities during lockdown: Report

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The London Story, an organisation that investigates and exposes instances of human rights violation and abuse globally, has come up with a report that squarely holds the government accountable for the communalisation of the Covid-19 pandemic in India.

The report on the misuse of the pandemic to target minorities and subversion of democratic values in India says, “While governments all over the world are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, Modi government is using the opportunity created by the lock-down for continued systemic vilification of minorities (especially Muslims), and for targeting dissidents.” It adds, “The pandemic has been used to demonise Muslims and scapegoat them for the calamity. This has intensified the continued dehumanization of Muslims in India.”

On the subject of the use of provisions of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the report raises serious concerns saying, that it “is now being used to divest citizens of their fundamental rights. People are being picked up and put in jails under flimsy presences and fictitious cases, and being held without trial for long periods of time using provisions of UAPA. Intellectuals, journalists and whistleblowers who are leading the defence of pluralism and democracy are being systematically targeted.”

The report goes on to present a timeline of the systematic targeting of Muslims from April 1 onwards showcasing the call for their socio-economic boycott and coining of the deeply communal term ‘Corona Jihad’. It alleges that the minority community was targeted in a bid to divert attention from the haphazard manner in which the lockdown was implemented. The report says, “Facing criticism for the humanitarian crisis that ensued following the abrupt and unplanned lockdown, the propaganda machinery of the Modi government went on overdrive to divert attention from the disastrous lockdown policy. It concentrated (and continues to concentrate) on expanding its agenda of dehumanization of Muslims and other minorities. Additionally, since the pandemic gave governments the opportunity to suspend certain civil liberties, the Modi government used this opportunity to clamp down on all kinds of dissent.”

The report sites media reports as well as similar concerns raised by international organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United States Commission for International Religious Freedoms. The report then goes on to list instances of police brutality and vigilante justice that have take place during the lockdown and also an incident where migrants were hosed with a disinfectant solution, calling it a “Crisis of Dignity”.

The entire report may be read here:

First published in Sabrang India.