Human right activists lament lack of democratic space in India

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Kolkata, Dec 7 (IANS) Human rights activists on Wednesday expressed concern over the gradual decline of democratic space and violation of rights of the minority and marginalised people in India.

In a meeting organised by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) here, the activists described how the human rights defenders, whether an individual or an organisation, are repeatedly coming under attack while trying to protect people’s basic rights.

“We are going through such a dark period that any protest against the government is termed as anti-national activity and anyone who questions a government action is tagged as a terrorist,” said Henri Tiphagne, the Executive Director of People’s Watch, a Madurai-based NGO.

Participation in the discussion headlined “Shrinking democracy and attacks on human rights defenders,” Tiphagne accused statutory bodies and othr government organisations of playing “extremely passive roles” against incidents of human rights violations like extra judicial killings and custodial deaths.

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“Organisations like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), that is supposed to protect the citizenship rights of the minority and marginalised in the society, stay alarmingly silent in cases of political and police atrocities against them,” Tiphagne said.

Human rights activist and independent scientist Meher Engineer cited the example of Khurram Pervez, a Kashmiri activist, who was first stopped from attending a United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva to talk about the violence in Kashmir and later put under “preventive detention” by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

“The government’s actions against people like him are evident signs of human rights violation that we need to fight collectively,” he said.



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