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HomeIndiaIndia rated 'partially free' for second consecutive year in Freedom House report

India rated ‘partially free’ for second consecutive year in Freedom House report

Pegasus spyware scandal, 'love jihad' laws & death of activist Stan Swami in custody are cited as some of the major factors for India's status.

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New Delhi: India’s status remained as a “partially free” country for the second consecutive year in the annual report of Freedom House, a US government-funded non-profit that assesses the level of political rights and civil liberties across the globe.

The Pegasus spyware scandal, ‘love jihad’ laws, and death of adivasi rights activist Stan Swami in custody were some of the major factors cited by the report as the reasons for India’s ‘partially free’ status. The country’s total score also fell from ’67’ in 2021 to ’66’ in 2022 out of 100. The scores are similar to Malawi in southeastern Africa and South American nation Bolivia.

The Freedom House report has been published annually since 1973. It uses surveys and analysis to tabulate indices around freedom and human rights. India was rated as a “free” country in 2018, 2019 and 2020, but through the years, its scores and rank have fallen.

‘Colonial-era laws invoked to penalise criticism’

The report noted that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata party” has presided over discriminatory policies that perscuted Muslims and hounded NGOs, journalists and activists.

“Colonial-era and other laws have increasingly been invoked in recent years to penalise perceived criticism of the government by ordinary citizens,” the report said.

The report also highlighted the government’s response towards farmers protesting against the three agriculture laws and Opposition leaders being “arrested” by the government while trying to visit Lakhimpur Kheri, where a minister’s car had allegedly hit protesting farmers.

Eight people, including four farmers, died in the clashes on 3 October, 2021 following violence after a convoy of three SUVs — including one allegedly owned by Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ — hit a group of protesting farmers, and sparked violence.

The report also took note of the Covid-19 pandemic in India and the resultant Information Technology Act that restricted any content around poor handling of the health crisis.

“In February, the government successfully lobbied Twitter to block over 500 accounts…Twitter employees within India were threatened with jail time if they did not comply,” it added.

There has been no response from Indian officials to the report.


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