India’s despicable human rights record
Nazia Nazar


India is considered as the largest democracy and one of the champions of human rights, but in fact it has a poor human rights record especially in protecting women rights. Indian media, women rights activists and civil society have been raising voices against the crimes against women, but after the recent media reporting of unprecedented rise in rape cases in Haryana, the criticism has intensified. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its recent research has found that rape has become India’s fastest growing crime with an increase of 873 per cent in the last five decades. In 2011, the number of rape cases recorded by NCRB was close to 25,000, out of which 9,398 cases of rape involved children. Women activists blame the rise in rapes primarily due to the low conviction levels and the fact that the perpetrators of the crime are generally known to the victim.

Madhya Pradesh witnessed 3,406 cases followed by West Bengal in 2,363 cases while UP had 2,042 cases in 2011. Delhi had the highest number of rape cases at 568 in 2011. As regards child rape, more than 19 cases of child rape are reported in India every day. Worse still the number of such cases registered with the police has been rising for the last five years. The message is clear: India is a dangerous place for women and children. From Haryana to Bengal, rape is a grim reality in India. Every 20 minutes, a woman is raped in India. Every third victim of rape is a child, according to 2011 figures from the NCRB. Despite its despicable human rights record of oppression and repression on minorities in India, its leadership harbors ambition to become permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

In October 2011, just a month later when the unidentified mass graves in Indian Held Kashmir came to media limelight, the prime minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh during his address at UN General Assembly’s 66th annual session had once again called for early reform and expansion of the UNSC “to reflect contemporary reality”, which implicitly meant India’s inclusion in the UNSC as a permanent member. Prior to it, the spokesperson of Indian ministry of external affairs Vishnu Prakash had also told the media that “we have impeccable credentials to become the permanent member of the UNSC”. One wonders how could the ‘harsh realities’ be put aside before weighing India for permanent membership of UNSC. How unfortunate that a country with a notorious record of showing disregard to more than twenty UN resolutions and worst human right violations in Kashmir boasted of being a potential candidate for a ‘responsible’ status at UNSC.

One surely needs to find out the ‘impeccable’ credentials from India’s past 65 years history, which is replete with its belligerency, indigenous separatist movements, minorities’ issues and growing fundamentalism. So far as the minority rights in the so-called largest democracy are concerned, Sikh massacre in 1984, Muslims’ pogrom in 2002, Christians’ carnage in Orissa in 2007 and demolition of several minorities’ worship places are still alive in the memories of the surviving victims. The most abhorring fact is that the criminals who committed the above massacres enjoy vast ‘political powers’ in India, and for this reason, the culprits of minorities’ mass murders go scot-free till now. On the other hand, myriad separatist and secessionist movements going on in India are reflective of the turbulent communal problems the country is confronted with for the past many decades.

Moreover, India’s subjugation of Kashmiri people by denying them the right to self- determination and the violation of basic human rights by Indian army in Kashmir have brought ignominy and disgrace to the country. According to a report on Human Rights violations in Kashmir published by Human Rights Watch and other HR organizations state that between 1989 to June 30, 2012 approximately 98,274 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian security forces. There have been 7,969 custodial killings, over 107,351 children have been orphaned, 22,728 women widowed and 9,920 women gang-raped. In fact, the above figures send shivers down the spine of all the conscientious people. On the other hand, some local and foreign journalists and media men are being barred from presenting independent views on Kashmir. Those who try to raise their voices are threatened with dire consequences.

Angana Chatterji, co-convener of the International People´s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Held Kashmir and also the eyewitness of those unmarked mass graves which she found during her visit to Baramulla and Kupwara districts, has also faced tremendous harassment by Indian security and intelligence personnel for her writings and deep concern over human rights violations in IHK. According to a report written by Riyaz Wani published in Tehalka on 23rd September 2011, the Kashmir government deported human rights activist Gautum Navlakha from Srinagar airport. In November 2010, US academic Professor Richard Shapiro, husband of Angana Chatterji, was also denied entry by immigration authorities in New Delhi because he was a frequent visitor to Kashmir and interacted with various human rights activists, scholars and youth to learn from their experiences.

American radio broadcaster David Barsamian, who was deported, had also said that India denied him entry because of his views on Kashmir. He ironically commented that he was happy that he escaped without being tortured. The answer could be elicited from a recent article by a renowned writer Ijaz Zaka Syed published in Gulf News on 24th of September with the caption ‘Cry, my beloved country!’ He says, “…financial indexes are no parameters of a nation’s progress. Remember, under Hitler, Nazi Germany too had registered unprecedented economic growth within a short span of time — and look where it got it.” Kashmir, which is considered a paradise on earth for its enchanting scenic beauty, is now turning into a ´secret´ graveyard of its own inhabitants while the culprit state is being considered for awarding UNSC permanent membership. Isn’t it a travesty of justice?