India: Prime Minister Modi must build a more inclusive India in new term in office

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must make a sincere commitment to building an inclusive India that protects religious minorities and human rights defenders, Amnesty India said today.

According to media reports, hate crimes motivated by religious bias in India rose to a decade-high of 93 in 2018, as Amnesty India recorded a total of 500 incidents of alleged hate crimes through its website 'Halt the Hate' between 2015 and 2018.

The website documents incidents reported in English and media of alleged hate crimes against people from marginalised communities, including Dalits, Adivasis, trans people and migrants, and members of racial or religious minority groups.

In 2018, there was also an intensified crackdown against human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society organisations working for some of India’s poorest and marginalised communities. Numerous activists were arrested and subjected to a sustained smear campaign as ‘anti-nationals’ and ‘Maoists’.

Soon after his Bharatiya Janta Party’s resounding election victory, Modi said: “Minorities have long been made to live in fear by those who believed in vote-bank politics and this deception needs to end to take everyone along. We have worked for sabka saath, sabka vikas (solidarity with everyone, development for all), now we have to strive for sabka vishwas (trust of all).”

Aakar Patel, Head of Amnesty India, said:

“While Prime Minister Modi’s acknowledgement of the fears shared by religious minorities is appreciated, he must take concrete steps to assure them that their constitutional rights will be upheld by his government.

“The recent crackdown by the Indian authorities – treating human rights organisations as criminal enterprises and human rights defenders as criminals – is in direct contrast to keeping those accused of human rights violations in positions of power.

“Amnesty India believes that sustainable development for all can only be achieved in conditions of fairness, non-discrimination, transparency and accountability.”

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