The US Department of State reported an increase in religious and sect based violence in India, identifying Muslims and lower caste groups as most targeted.
The ‘2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ revealed the Ministry of Home Affairs data for 2016-17, showing “703 incidents of communal (religious) violence occurred in which 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured. According to the NHRC, there were 672 cases of discrimination and victimization against Scheduled Castes and 79 cases against minorities in 2018-19.”
In April media reported state-run public Ahmedabad Civil Hospital set up segregated wards for Muslim and Hindu patients “as per [the] government decision” in a treatment facility for COVID-19 patients, the report revealed. Following media uproar and widespread criticism, the segregation of patients on the basis of faith was revoked, according to Muslim community sources.
The report also identified India’s role in Kashmir, delineating the amount of violence and chaos that ensued.
“Killings by government and nongovernment forces, including insurgents and terrorists, were reported in Jammu and Kashmir, northeastern states, and Maoist-affected areas of the country (see section 1.g.). The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) reported the deaths of 63 civilians, 89 security force members, and 284 insurgents countrywide as a result of terrorism or insurgency attacks,” it said.
There was also an absence of freedom of press in India, the report stated, with frequently occurring arrests and detentions.
“NGOs reported the arrest and detention of political and human rights activists who criticized the policies of Manipur’s state government. While some faced charges of sedition, promoting communal disharmony, public mischief, and criminal conspiracy, others were booked under the National Disaster Management Act,” the report read.
There were also numerous instances of journalists and members of media organizations reportedly being threatened or killed in response to their reporting. The report revealed that the police rarely identified suspects involved in the killing of journalists, with The Committee to Protect Journalists reporting the killings of at least 79 journalists between 1992 and 2020.