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US Congress' Report: India Is Failing At Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

The new report highlights the seeming collapse of freedom of religion, press, and expression since 2019 in India.

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A report released by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reveals the crumbling effect of disintegration of religious freedom and freedom of expression in India. This public policy research institute of the United States Congress also sheds light on efforts to dismantle freedom of the press and civil society in India.

As per the CRS, "the scope and scale of such abuses reportedly has increased under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, particularly since their reelection in 2019.

The report referenced the Sweden-based Varieties of Democracies Project which has classified India as "an electoral autocracy" since 2019.

Moreover, according to the US-based non-profit organisation Freedom House, India was re-designated as "Partly Free" in 2021 and went on to add that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism." This could lead to a negative impact for global democratic trends.

"The New Delhi government issued a rebuttal of the Freedom House conclusions, calling them misleading, incorrect, and misplaced."
US Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on India
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According to the US State Department's 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF), about 80 percent of Indians are Hindus while 14 percent are Muslim and noted that "attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, intimidation, and cow vigilantism, occurred throughout the year" in India.

Earlier in 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced her concern regarding statements and actions showing hatred and violence against religious minority communities by Hindu nationalist leaders were "problematic" and "may foster hatred or even violence."

Overview Of Press Freedom

The CRS referred to the State Department's 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices that stated "while the Indian government generally respected press freedom in 2021, there were instances in which the government or actors considered close to the government allegedly pressured or harassed media outlets critical of the government, including through online trolling."

(With inputs from Congressional Research Service Report, and American Kahani)

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