GENEVA: A group of prominent UN human rights experts have reiterated their concerns over the Hindu-nationalist Indian government’s hate speech, violent attacks and harassment of peaceful anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protestors, as also the disproportionate targeting of India’s Muslim minority, particularly in Northeast Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, earlier this year.
In a second joint letter — based on reports and testimonies — sent to India, the experts, numbering seven, extensively documented events surrounding the Delhi pogrom, suggesting that hate speech by several leaders of the BJP ruling party triggered violent attacks against Muslims and their places of worship as well as properties in February.
They also highlighted that the government pre-mediated these attacks by preplanned mobilization of Hindu nationalist mobs from other states, with supply of arms and ammunitions.
The UN experts expressed disquiet at the “lack of accountability” and a “persistent climate of impunity”, “despite flagrant incitement to violence against Muslims through advocacy of hatred expressed by high-profile political figures and members of Parliament”.
They lamented police’s complicity in violence by Hindu mobs against Muslim population in Delhi and UP, as well as interference of the Indian Government in independence of the judiciary by transferring a presiding judge of a case related to the Delhi pogrom.
The joint letter was sent to India by these UN experts, also known as UN Special Procedures or Rapporteurs, on Oct. 9, 2020. It was made public Wednesday after India did not respond within the given deadline of 60 days.
The first letter was dispatched to India on Feb. 28, 2020, in which nine human rights experts expressed serious concerns over use of excessive force against, intimidation and harassment of anti-CAA protestors, in particular those belonging to Muslim minority. The protest erupted on December 15, 2019, and continued for 55 days.
The new letter comes against the backdrop of growing evidence about Indian State complicity in the Delhi pogrom and other reported acts of violence and hostility against Muslims in the country under the BJP-led Government. Earlier this year, reputed NGOs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also published detailed reports, sharing evidence of Indian State’s connivance in targeted violence against Muslims in Delhi.
The signatories of the letter include Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; Elina Steinerte, Vice-Chairman of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions; Ms. Irena Khan, Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and of association; Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues and Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture.