A report submitted before the United Nations has accused leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of making “inflammatory remarks” against minority groups and contributing in “vigilantism targeted against Muslims and Dalits”.
The report has been prepared by Tendayi Achiume, a United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. This post is held by an independent human rights expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.
The report was prepared in response to a 2017 UN General Assembly resolution that asked special rapporteur to profile countries on counts of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.
In her report, Achiume has said that the victory of the “Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has been linked to incidents of violence against members of Dalit, Muslim, tribal and Christian communities”.
It said that reports have documented the “use of inflammatory remarks by BJP leaders against minority groups” and the “rise of vigilantism targeting Muslims and Dalits”.
The mandate of the report was to analyze “threats posed by nationalist populism to the fundamental human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality”. The report says that it focused on the threats to racial equality due to “fuelling of discrimination, intolerance and the creation of institutions and structures that will have enduring legacies of racial exclusion”.
Besides the attacks on Muslims and Dalits, the special UN Special Rapporteur has also outlined her reservations on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. She said that in many countries, nationalists populist parties have brought in administrative reforms that effectively result in excluding minority groups from official citizen registries “on the basis of claims that they are irregular migrants”, resulting in statelessness, disenfranchisement, and exclusion of minorities.
The special rapporteur mentioned that in May this year, she had written to the Indian government and expressed concerns about the NRC. In the report, she says that she had mentioned the “heightened concerns of the Bengali Muslim minority” in Assam who have “historically been portrayed as foreigners”.
The report says that the Election Commission’s identification of ‘doubtful voters’ in Assam is “arbitrary”. It said since 1997, this identification process has resulted in “further disenfranchisement and loss of entitlements to social protection as Indian citizens” for the Bengali Muslims in Assam.
Besides these, the report submitted before the United Nations raises questions on the conduct of local authorities in Assam who are engaged in updating the NRC.
It raises apprehensions that the local authorities, “who are deemed to be particularly hostile towards Muslims and people of Bengali descent, may manipulate the verification system in an attempt to exclude many genuine Indian citizens from the updated Register”.