The European Parliament adopted a resolution on 17 January expressing concern about “acts of violence, increasing nationalistic rhetoric, and divisive policies” in India over the past decade. This resolution, addressing EU-India relations, serves as a recommendation to the European Council, the European Commission, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrelle Fontelles. It has been adopted just months ahead of India’s Lok Sabha elections, which will determine whether the Modi government will return to power with a landslide victory, as it did in 2019.
The resolution outlines acts of violence and discriminatory practices against religious and ethnic minorities in India, along with the “harmful effects” of certain laws, such as the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The report scrutinizes ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur, unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, the controversial CAA-NRC Act, and the crackdown on the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act).
On the Manipur Crisis
The northeastern state of Manipur has been grappling with ethnic clashes and communal violence since last May between the Hindu Meitei and Christian Kuki communities, resulting in the death of over 200 people and displacing over 60,000 individuals across the state. Tensions between the two tribal groups had been simmering for a long time regarding employment opportunities and land acquisition – which touched its peak when the government made the move to recognize the Meiteis as a Scheduled Tribe – a status already given to the Kukis. The Kukis protested this move – fearing that their already limited opportunities would be under threat if the Meiteis were included in the quota system as well.
The central government faced heavy criticism for its continued silence regarding the matter – eventually deploying troops to control the violence and imposing an internet shutdown in the state to disrupt the flow of information. The Manipur state government, currently in the BJP’s stronghold – was accused by Human Rights Watch of inciting violence in the state by ushering in divisive policies promoting Hindu majoritarianism. The European Parliament resolution urged the European Council and Commission to urge political leaders in India to refrain from making inflammatory statements that instigate violence and to establish mechanisms to address and bring ethnic violence under control.
On The Jammu And Kashmir Situation
The resolution also expressed concern about the “worrying situation” in Jammu and Kashmir – relating to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and emphasized that the crisis should be closely monitored. In 2019, the Modi government passed a decision on the abrogation of Article 370, which had so far granted the disputed region a special autonomous status. The government argued that this decision aimed to better control the situation in Kashmir and counter-terrorist activities that keep erupting in this troubled region. The government alleges that militants and terrorist outfits are sponsored in the state by Pakistan, while Islamabad maintains that they support Kashmir’s right to self-determination. However, this decision was challenged and disputed by several political parties and the Bar Association.
Last year, the Supreme Court passed a verdict in favor of the Modi government – stating that Jammu and Kashmir should have the same status as any other state in India and that elections should be held in the state before 30 September 2024. The European Parliament resolution suggests that they should remain committed to “de-escalation and rapprochement through good neighborly relations between India and Pakistan.”
On The Citizenship Amendment Act
The resolution also addresses the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), describing it as “dangerously divisive”. It asserts that a law with the potential to differentiate between citizens based on religion is a matter of serious concern. The resolution suggests that the Council and Commission should collaborate with India to create a “safe and secure environment for human rights”. The Parliament had previously expressed concern over this Act in 2020 when it was first announced, describing the CAA as “fundamentally discriminatory in nature” with the potential to “create the largest statelessness crisis in the world”.
The CAA was enacted by the Indian Parliament in 2019 – entailing that the country would “provide citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities except for Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by 31 December 2014”. The Act faced severe criticism and triggered protests across the country. Indian Muslims lived in fear that the National Register of Citizens could be used to disenfranchise them.
This is not the first time that the EU has passed a resolution addressing discriminatory and dangerous practices in India – having previously commented on how the freedom of the press suffered a serious blow after the Modi-led BJP government came to power in 2014. The EU expressed serious concern about journalists and activists being attacked and unjustifiably jailed using the draconian UAPA law, which allows the state to arrest individuals on charges of sedition and inciting violence.
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