In India, human rights have always been a widespread issue. Even before India got its independence, the Britishers inflicted a great deal of gross conduct towards Indians resulting in numerous human rights violations. After obtaining our independence, the drafters of the Constitution of India tried to ensure that adequate protection in the form of fundamental rights, freedom to speech, expression and religion are available to the citizens along with a robust legislative and independent judicial framework to minimize and eradicate human rights violations within the country. However, this aim of our Constitution has not yet been completely fulfilled in current modern India. This article with deal with examples of grave human rights violations and how it affects our society.
The 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots, which began as a result of the assassination of the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, was an organized agitation against the Sikh community, which resulted in killings of more than 3,000 Sikhs in and around New Delhi and approximately 8,000 in India. The Sikh community was massacred brutally, along with the Khalistan movement, which demanded independence from India.
The 2002 Gujrat Riots was communal violence between Hindus and minority Muslims in the state of Gujrat. The Godhra train burning incident in which approximately 60 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive when the train was set on fire at Godhra station, became the inciting factor in the riots which stretched for multiple days, resulting in deaths of more than 1,000 innocent Muslims. Several instances of gross human rights violations were recorded, which included rape, looting, destruction of private property, and even burning innocent individuals alive. The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom in its 2020 report has given India the tag of the country with a particular concern.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION:
The Indian Constitution has awarded the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a). However, the government has been instrumental and firm in introducing legislation like the Official Secrets Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, etc. Several people are arrested every year under sedition laws for raising their voice against the misuse of democratic powers and dissenting with anti-democratic policies of the government. With strong protest against the Official Secrets Act, the government finally introduced much-needed amendments to make it fairer with the introduction of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The caste system is embedded in the very roots of our society. The caste system is a social division of member of the society which is defined by their birth. One of the significant violence against lower sections of the society is Dalit atrocities, which include verbal abuse, rape, and even murder in some cases. The Khairlanji Massacre is a very prominent case and probably the darkest day of crimes against Dalits. A pure land dispute turned into a mass atrocity against a Dalit family in the state of Maharashtra in the year 2006. They were thrown out of their homes, paraded naked, tortured, and upper caste men of the village raped the women of the family.
The Bhanwari Devi case of 2006 also highlights the plight of lower caste women in our society. Bhanwari Devi, when tried to stop child marriage, was raped by men belonging to upper castes and given death threats if she tried to report their heinous acts to anyone. The social movement initiated by the victim resulted in the formulation of the Vishakha Guidelines and hence paving the way for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace.
There is no precise number of types of human rights violations as yet, and they can be of various kinds. Some of the more prominent violations are the discrimination of LGBTQ rights, freedom of association, extrajudicial killings, child rights and many more although steps in the right direction are being taken as is evident from the example of giving LGBT people a legal right to live their lifestyle in their natural way by Supreme Court’s ruling in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. However, the government, along with the society, are recognizing the issues and concerns of the victims, and adequate steps are being taken in the form of policy changes and new legislations in order to eradicate these harmful practices from our society.
This article is authored by Ashutosh Agarwal, First-Year, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) student at National Law University, Delhi (NLUD)
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