BRUSSELS — A member of the European Parliament has expressed grave concern over the “erosion of human rights and freedoms” in India.
Speaking a day ahead of India’s Republic Day on Thursday, Alviina Alametsa said the adoption of the Constitution marks an important moment in the history of India, but the celebrations of this day are shadowed by urgent human rights violations in the country. Alametsa is also a Finnish Green League politician.
She said as the standing rapporteur for India in the European Union’s law-making body, she recently visited India for the first time, where she met human rights activists, officials, journalists, and scholars to discuss the state of India’s democracy and human rights. “I witnessed these human rights violations when travelling in India. When I met these human rights defenders, I was shocked at how many of them work under very restricted circumstances, in an unpredictable and risky environment. Their offices have been shut down; their funds are frozen,” she said.
“I met respectable, hardworking non-governmental organisations that now have to work totally underground. Many international organisations have been forced to leave the country. Many activists have been detained without due process, and others silenced,” she continued.
Those who dare to speak, Alametsa added, said the same thing that none of them would have been able to predict the nature of the socio-political climate that currently prevails in India.
Alametsa was speaking as a guest at a parliamentary briefing on the topic ‘Taking stock of constitutional rights protection in India’. The virtual event was organised by The London Story, a think-tank run by the Indian diaspora in the European Union.
Alametsa expressed deep concern over the growing trend of activists being imprisoned, minorities being attacked, and media being repressed in India. “These are indicators of the erosion of human rights and freedoms. Police abuse and killings are not just extremely unfortunate instances but are parts of actions to control the critical voices,” she said. Sounding a note of caution against the emergence of authoritarian forces, the legislator said, “To be a true democracy, India cannot fall into authoritarian rule. The people in India need the protection of their constitutional rights from their government, the justice system, and the whole society.”