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India Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

India is home to a thriving democracy and to recent stunning economic growth. Unfortunately, this has not prevented multiple serious human rights abuses from remaining a fact of life in many parts of the country. Political and separatist violence and the government’s heavy-handed response have threatened the well-being and human rights of millions. Economic development has often threatened the livelihoods, land, and lives of the poor who are in its way. Hundreds of millions live in severe poverty, and women, religious minorities, dalits, adivasis and LGBT Indians can face harsh discrimination and shocking violence.

In Jammu & Kashmir, some northeastern states, and wide rural swaths of central India infiltrated by Maoists, civilians are caught between armed insurgents and Indian security forces, suffering violence and human rights abuses by both sides. The state government in J&K has consistently held Kashmiris for months and even years without charge and subjected prisoners to torture, disappearance, and death. In Chhattisgarh, the state has threatened and imprisoned human rights defenders on trumped-up charges of sedition and treason, while state-supported militias operate with impunity. Terrorist attacks by Hindu and Muslim extremists are not uncommon in northern and western India. The 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat continues to go unpunished, as do the mass killings of Sikhs in 1984 and the killing of Muslims across India in 1992-1993. In Orissa and other resource-rich parts of the country massive industrial projects, such as mines, dams and economic development zones, force thousands off their land with inadequate compensation. In Bhopal, site of the world’s worst industrial disaster over 26 years ago, thousands of survivors and their children suffer debilitating medical problems while those responsible for the leak walk free.

Along with these headline-grabbing issues are other equally grave human rights concerns that threaten Indians’ economic, cultural and social rights. Hundreds of millions of Indians live in extreme poverty and these marginalized people suffer most from a poor healthcare system, often non-existent education, economic exploitation, sexual violence, an overwhelmed judicial system, and police brutality and impunity. Extrajudicial killings by the police are common as is torture in police custody. India retains the use of the death penalty.

Women and girls face persistent discrimination and the threat of rape and other acts of violence, particularly in the north, and often at the hands of family members through dowry deaths, honor killings, and female foeticide. Members of lower castes, as well as adivasis (indigenous people), remain the victims of violence and humiliation despite their growing political and economic empowerment. Many Muslims and Christians face routine violence and harassment on account of their faith. Similarly, LGBT Indians find it very difficult to live openly in Indian society despite significant recent legal rulings in their favor.

Finally, a changing climate and a rapidly growing population will mean that soon millions of Indian lives will be threatened by rising oceans, melting glaciers, unpredictable monsoons, devastating droughts, polluted water sources, growing urban slums, and the resulting societal upheaval.

Detained Indian Journalist Released!

Santosh Yadav was released from prison on 9 March 2017, over a week after the Supreme Court of India granted him bail. Detained since September 2015, it is believed that he was targeted for his work among Indigenous Adivasi communities in Bastar district, Chhattisgarh. He is required to report to the local police station daily.

India Newsroom



December 9, 2018 • Report

Oppressive, sexist policies galvanize bold fight for women’s rights in 2018

Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state …

September 13, 2017 • Report

Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns

Pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir, must be immediately banned, Amnesty International India reiterated today in a new briefing, “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”.

July 12, 2017 • Report

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June 28, 2017 • Report

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July 11, 2016 • Report

When Land Is Lost, Do We Eat Coal?: Coal Mining and Violations of Adivasi Rights in India

Mining operations by India’s state-owned Coal India Limited, the world’s largest coal producer, are shutting out indigenous Adivasi communities from decisions that affect their lives, Amnesty International India said in a new report published today.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

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June 30, 2015 • Report

Denied: Failures in Accountability for Human Rights Violations by Security Force Personnel in Jammu and Kashmir

Twenty-five years after the introduction of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Jammu and Kashmir, the law continues to feed a cycle of impunity for human rights violations, Amnesty International India said in a new report.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

June 24, 2014 • Report

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act: A Renewed Debate in India on Human Rights and National Security

For decades, The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) has enabled serious human rights violations to be committed by soldiers in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and parts of northeast India, and shielded those responsible.

May 20, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: India 2013

Republic of India Head of state Pranab Kumar Mukherjee (replaced Pratibha Patil) Head of government Manmohan Singh Torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody and arbitrary detentions persisted. …