New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - In India it is the task of the government and the institutions to do more to guarantee the protection and promotion of human rights: this is what Fr. Cedrik Prakash, a Jesuit priest and activist in the "Jesuit Refugee Service" says to Agenzia Fides, noting that "2019 is a truly horrible year for the protection of human rights in India". "Since the government led by the Baratiya Janata Party took over power in May 2014, there has been a constant deterioration regarding respect for human rights in the country", he notes.
The priest mentions "respect for women", in a situation where "India has acquired the terrible reputation of being 'capital of rape' in the world, and a society that treats women as second-class citizens, with discrimination and violence"
Furthermore, notes Fr. Prakash "freedom of expression and the press has almost become a chimera: the World Press Freedom Index in April 2019 sees India in 140th place out of 180 countries and even the right to privacy is constantly trampled".
"The situation is critical - continues the Indian priest - also for the defenders of human rights, who suffer threats, coercion, intimidation, arrests, insults and false accusations just because they promote human rights, justice and peace. A few months ago "five well-known human rights activists, including the writer P Varavara Rao, were arrested on entirely fictitious charges. The ancient 'sedition law' is still used to suppress dissent".
Freedom of religion or belief is often violated: "According to the latest data, there is an increase in common incidents in nine states: Uttar Pradesh this year registered 457 episodes of religiously motivated violence between January and October. Nearly five hundred attacks against Christians have been reported in various parts of the country. Fundamentalists thrive on 'hate speech' and lynching has become terribly frequent".
Finally Fr. Prakash reports that "in India children's rights are violated with impunity. Millions of children still do dangerous jobs in different parts of the country. Their right to education is denied, they are deprived of their childhood. Many children are trapped in human trafficking network".
Fr. Prakash condemns the work of the government that "seems to have renounced the role and responsibility to protect and promote the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution: the right to life and freedom; to dignity and equality; to freedom of speech and expression, to the freedom to preach, to practice one's religion, the right to sustenance and all other fundamental human rights" and urges Indian people "not to give up, to claim a justice that is really proclaimed and practiced by the state, respecting the principles of equality and human dignity for all". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/12/2019)