India’s status as free country has changed to “partly free” under PM Modi: Report

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An annual report on global political rights and liberties has said that India’s status as a free country has changed to “partly free”.

Civil liberties in India have been in decline since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, said Freedom House in its report Democracy under siege, BBC reported.

S-based Freedom House, a non-profit organisation which conducts research on political freedom and human rights added that India’s “fall from the upper ranks of free nations” could have a more damaging effect on the world’s democratic standards.

Since 2014, it says, increased pressure on human rights organisations, intimidation of journalists and activists, and a spate of attacks, especially those against Muslims, had led to a deterioration of political and civil liberties in the country.

And this decline only “accelerated” after 2019, it added.

In 2014, India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a landslide general election victory. Modi returned to power with an even greater majority five years later.

“Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all,” the report said.

It said that the crackdown against those protesting against  a bill which offers amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries had contributed to India’s decline in the ratings.

The government argues that the law will give sanctuary to people fleeing religious persecution. Critics say the bill is part of the BJP’s agenda to marginalise Muslims in Hindu majority India.

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