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Security officers keep guard during lockdown in Jammu, India Security officers keep guard during lockdown in Jammu, India, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

In Modi’s India, Rights and Freedoms Erode Further Amid COVID-19

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global politics at a time when democracy was already “under assault” around the world, according to the watchdog organization Freedom House. From the United States to Hungary to the Philippines, governments have used the pandemic to consolidate power, curb individual liberties and restrict the space for civil society organizations and freedom of expression. Democratic and authoritarian societies alike are ramping up surveillance of their citizens as part of their attempts to stop the spread of the virus.

The state of human rights and freedom in the world’s largest democracy has worsened as well. As the coronavirus spread around the world in the early months of 2020, India was experiencing its worst communal violence since 2002. In January, a pro-government mob attacked the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, one of India’s most prominent liberal institutions, in New Delhi. Dozens of students and faculty were injured. Then, in late February, riots in the capital led to the deaths of 53 Indians, most of them Muslim. The shocking violence cast an unflattering spotlight on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, underscoring how brittle India’s social fabric and democracy have become under his watch. ...

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