India has human rights issues, including ‘unlawful killings’: US report

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US state department has said that India has several significant human rights issues, including unlawful and arbitrary killings, restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, corruption and tolerance of violations of religious freedom.

In its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ to the US Congress, the Department of State noted the improvement in the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.

“The government continued taking steps to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir by gradually lifting some security and communications restrictions,” said the State Department in its India section of the report. The government released most political activists from detention, it added

In January, the government partially restored internet access; however, high-speed 4G mobile internet remained restricted in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The government began a process to redraw electoral constituencies but did not announce a timeline for local assembly elections.

Local district development council elections took place in December in which a coalition of Kashmiri opposition parties won the majority of seats, the report said.

Separatist insurgents in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast, and Maoist-affected areas committed serious abuses, including killings and torture of armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians, and recruitment and use of child soldiers, it said.

The State Department in its report listed more than a dozen significant human rights issues for India. Prominent among them are unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings perpetrated by police; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by some police and prison officials; arbitrary arrest and detention by government authorities; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; political and prisoners or detainees in certain states.

India, in the past, rejected similar reports.

The US report mentioned restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, use of criminal libel laws to prosecute social media speech, censorship, and site blocking.

“There were also reports of extremists perpetrating acts of killing, violence, and intimidation against journalists critical of the government, the State Department said.

“In certain cases local authorities arrested or filed cases against individuals under laws against hate speech for expressions of political views. The harassment and detainment of journalists critical of the government in their reporting or social media messaging continued, the report said.

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