Human Rights Watch and Amnesty India have called on the Indian authorities to desist from using lethal force against demonstrators protesting against the recently amended anti-Muslim Citizenship Act. As many as 25 protesters have been killed ever since the nationwide protests erupted against the Act.
Human Rights Watch’s South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said, “Indian police, in many areas, have been cracking down on anti-citizenship law protests with force, including unnecessary deadly force… The authorities should prosecute violent protesters, but they also need to hold police officers to account for using excessive force.”
Several videos of police brutalities against protesters have surfaced on social media platforms. All killings have occurred in states ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political party, the BJP. Among those killed include 18 in Uttar Pradesh, 5 in Assam, and 2 in Karnataka. Most of those killed are Muslims including one 8-year-old boy. According to police, many of its personnel too have sustained injuries.
Amnesty India’s Executive Director Avinash Kumar too termed the CAA a bigoted law, which legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion. “The CAA is a bigoted law that legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion. The people of the country have the right to protest against this law peacefully and express their views. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly does not only facilitate freedom of expression, but also allows public debate. However, rather than respecting, protecting and promoting this right, the Central government in Delhi and various state governments are clamping down on protestors by using repressive laws”, Kumar was quoted as saying.
The Indian authorities have used brutal methods to curb the peaceful assembly of protesters. While supporters of the government have been allowed to stage rallies calling for the murder of those opposing the Modi government. The government agencies have also shut down the internet, illegally and indiscriminately sealed properties of Muslims and imposed Section 144 restricting assembly of more than three people at any given point.
In Uttar Pradesh, which reported the most number of murders, BJP’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath vowed ‘revenge’ against protesters, saying, ‘all properties of those involved in damaging public assets will be seized and auctioned to compensate for the losses.’ Soon after, the state authorities launched a crackdown in Muzaffarnagar district and sealed nearly 70 shops without providing a legal basis.