By Nithin Sridhar
Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group on human rights has just released its ‘World Report 2016’ assessing the human rights conditions prevalent across the globe in the year 2015. The report analyses human rights conditions in various countries on wide range of parameters.
Yet, even a cursory look at its assessment of India reveals its biasness and one-sided reporting. While it has rightly highlighted few issues like lack of Police reforms in India, or the regressive law against homosexuals, it completely loses its sense of balance when dealing with issues of free speech, communal violence, etc. Further, its coverage of India appears to be completely motivated, especially when it makes irresponsible remarks like ‘India was a weak proponent of human rights at the UN in 2015.’Its criticism of Modi-led BJP government clearly goes overboard as well! The whole report reads more like a propaganda pamphlet than an unbiased reporting.
Let’s take the issue of Church attacks that had surfaced in December 2014 and early 2015. Though, there was a huge outcry after the attacks with the media giving it a communal color, later investigations clearly revealed that they were cases of random thefts and vandalism and there was absolutely no communal motive behind them. (See Rupa Subramanya’s piece in Firstpost). Moreover, Delhi Police itself had rubbished the idea that Christians were being targeted. The data with the Delhi Police, further revealed that in 2014, around 206 temples, 30 gurdwaras, 14 mosques as against three churches that were targeted. Till mid-February, 2015, 14 temples, two mosques, four gurdwaras and one church were targeted by the thieves.
Thus, the so called ‘church attacks’ were clearly a case of random theft and vandalism, without any communal angle. Yet, the report of Human Rights Watch chose to write: “Churches were also attacked in several states in 2015, prompting fears of growing Hindu nationalist militancy under the BJP government.” This is clearly a case of distortion of facts with a clear agenda to defame Modi-led government and to create a false impression of religious intolerance. The Human Rights group needs to answer what Hindu militancy are they speaking about? Which Hindu outfits have taken up arms and have gone on a killing spree in India? Did India witness any large scale massacre of non-Hindus by any Hindu outfit? What is the basis of such assertions? More importantly, if Church attacks were indeed carried out by growing Hindu militancy, then why would they target Hindu temples and Sikh Gurudwaras?
It is obvious that the motive behind giving a communal color to Church vandalism was to discredit the whole Hindu movement by branding them as ‘militants’ and to discredit Modi-led BJP government that is trying hard to bring India on the path of progress.
On one hand, the report speaks about the growth of non-existing Hindu militancy, but at the same time conveniently ignores the presence of numerous jihadi terrorists, naxalite groups, and other militant separatist outfits that are active in India. They do not forget to highlight the importance of accountability of security forces deployed in areas like Kashmir, but ignore the human rights violations committed by Kashmiri militants.
The report rightly highlighted the few incidents in which Muslim men were killed over allegations of killing cows and consuming beef. But, here again, it forgets to include cases of killings where the victims were Hindus and the perpetrators were Muslims. Thus, no Sanju Rathod, no Prashanth Poojary finds any mention in the report. Further, the report is completely silent about sustained attacks on Hindus and Hindu temples by members of the Muslim community in West Bengal. According to a report prepared by Hindu Samhati, there have been 34 cases of Hindu persecution between March 2008 and January 2015. On January 29, 2015, for example, a mob of around 1000 Muslims ransacked Hindu shops and looted them in a place called Usthi in West Bengal. Yet, these attacks on Hindus finds no mention in the Human Rights Report.
It appears that Hindus, because of their being a majority in India, have lost any claims towards human rights in the eyes of International Human rights organizations. What else explains their step-motherly treatment towards Hindu? What explains their choice in dedicating an entire section to analyze the ‘treatment of minorities’ but not sparing even a few lines to write about human rights issues being faced by the Hindu majority?
The report does not stop at this. It further alleges that Indian government harassed various civil society organizations using Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), because they had criticized the politics of the government. It cites the government imposition of restrictions on Ford Foundation and Greenpeace and the suspension of Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust as examples of government harassment and intimidation of civil society members. But the fact is the imposition of restriction and cancellations of registrations were done because these organizations allegedly violated the terms of the FCRA.
Teesta, for example, has been charged with diversion and misuse of foreign funds received by her trust for educational and social purpose. Similar charges exist against other organizations as well. The report seems to suggest that NGO’s and members of civil society must be given a free reign irrespective of the corruption and other illegal activities they indulge in. Many of the NGO’s have for a long time indulged in various anti-national activities. Many like Ford Foundation have clear links with the CIA and has tried to intervene in the internal politics of India. (See Surajit Dasgupta’s two part piece in NitiCentral here and here). These organizations receive huge foreign funds under various pretexts and then use those funds for breaking India activities (See the book ‘NGOs Activists and Foreign Funds’). The Human Rights Watch report conveniently whitewashed all the illegal activities of the NGO’s that led to government action against them, and has instead chosen to portray government action as an infringement of freedom of civil society! In other words, Human Rights Watch appears to support, at least in principle, the breaking India activities that few of these NGO’s are involved in.
The report did not forget to mention the Award Wapsi brigade and how they protested against the silencing of dissent by the government. One wonders, if there was any real silencing of dissent, how did so many writers, filmmakers, etc. managed to return their awards and air their protests publicly? It is quite obvious that the whole discourse on intolerance were manufactured with ulterior motives and had no basis in reality. Yet, the report chose to highlight it, without even investigating the veracity of the claims made by the Award Wapsi brigade.
It is very evident from the report that it is nothing better than an atrocity literature against India, especially Hindus, that attempts to portray Hindu movements as ‘militancy’ and India as a country that perpetrates violence against minorities. This is not the first time that Human Rights Watch has been accused of shoddy work and showing clear biasness. There have been allegations of them being influenced by the US government policy and showing a clear bias in reporting on Latin America, Israel, Ethiopia, etc. They have been accused of ignoring anti-Semitic violence. To this, we must now add their ignoring of anti-Hindu violence and their clear bias in the treatment of India.
Irrespective of the intentions of the Human Rights Watch, their prejudices and preconceived notions about Hindus, and their shoddy work has ensured that their report has ended up as a mere atrocity literature that will be used by breaking India forces. (Photo: www.thetoc.gr)