Demonstrators burn tyres during a strike called by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the North East Students? Organisation (NESO) in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.
Demonstrators burn tyres during a strike called by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the North East Students? Organisation (NESO) in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.
Photo: PTI

India has slipped down the ranks when it comes to political rights and civil liberties. A report by Freedom House said that country had departed alarmingly from "democratic norms" under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.

The pro-democracy nonprofit added that among the 25 largest democracies by population, India had suffered the greatest decline in its political rights and civil liberties score. The report classified internet freedom in India as being 'partial'.

Not only that, the organisation has also changed the classification of 'Indian Kashmir' from "partly free” to “not free".

In recent times, following the abrogation of Article 370, Kashmir had been placed under a lock-down of sorts. Soon after the law was scrapped, the State was divided into two union territories. To avoid incidents of violence, the Centre placed stringent curbs on the movement of people and on communication systems.

According to the Freedom House report, in the last year, Kashmir saw "one of the five largest single-year score declines of the past 10 years in Freedom in the World".

"The sweeping reorganization, which opponents criticized as unconstitutional, was accompanied by a massive deployment of troops and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of Kashmiri leaders and activists," the article added.

This is not the only time that the Kashmir situation has come under the scanner this year. US Congresswoman Debbie Dingell in January said that the situation in Kashmir violates human rights.

"Thousands have been detained unjustly & millions are without access to the internet & telephones," the Congresswoman had tweeted.

Since then, the situation in the valley has gradually returned to normal.

Accusing the BJP of "distancing itself from the country’s founding commitment to pluralism and individual rights" the Freedom House report suggested that India is now moving towards the lower human rights standards set by some of her neighbours.

The report also took into consideration the NRC exercise in Assam and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act which grants citizenship to foreign refugees from three neighbouring countries and six religions. The Act has been facing large scale opposition owing to the exclusion of Muslims and for ignoring some of the neighbouring nations.

Speaking about the NRC the report said that it followed a "deeply flawed process" and rendered many stateless. It added that while the NRC was "widely understood as an effort to exclude Muslims" it ended up excluding a significant number of Hindus.

The report accuses the BJP government of remedying this by initiating the CAA.

"Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah has pledged to repeat the Assam citizens’ register process nationwide, raising fears of a broader effort to render Indian Muslims stateless and ensure citizenship for non-Muslims," the report added.

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