The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted a resolution expressing concern about “acts of violence, increasing nationalistic rhetoric and divisive policies” in India.
The resolution, adopted months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, draws attention to acts of violence and discrimination against religious minorities and the “harmful effects” of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act on civil society organisation.
The resolution urged the European Council and European Commission to call on political leaders in India to “cease making inflammatory statements in order to resolve social conflicts, including those in Manipur”. The northeastern state continues to reel under ethnic conflicts between the Meitei and Kuki communities that began in May.
The conflict has killed over 200 persons and displaced more than 60,000 residents in the state.
The European Parliament also said there was a need to closely monitor the “worrying situation” in Jammu and Kashmir pertaining to human rights and fundamental freedoms. The body said that the European Council and European Commission should remain committed towards “de-escalation and rapprochement through good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan”.
The resolution described the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as “dangerously divisive” and said that the law, along with other legislations that discriminate on the grounds of religion, are matters of serious concern.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities except Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, sparking massive protests across the country. Indian Muslims fear the law could be used along with the National Register of Citizens to harass and disenfranchise them. The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants in the country.
The resolution said that the European Council and European Commission should work with India to secure a “safe and democratic environment for the work of human rights and environmental defenders, indigenous people and Dalit rights defenders, political opponents and trade union activists, journalists and other civil society actors”.
The European Parliament also said there was a need for India to stop invoking laws pertaining to sedition, foreign funding and terrorism to restrict the legitimate activities of civil society actors.
This comes after the Centre cracked down on multiple research and non-governmental organisations in the country by cancelling or declining to renew their Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act licences. Earlier this week, the home ministry cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act licence of Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy Research.
Claudio Francavilla, associate EU advocacy director at international non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch, said that the resolution of the European Parliament was an indictment of the Narendra Modi-led government.
“Silence by India’s international partners has effectively green-lighted continuing abuses, and the European Parliament deserves praise for breaking it,” he said. “Other EU institutions, EU governments, and India’s western partners should urgently make clear to Modi’s government that its crackdown on rights will have consequences for India’s bilateral relations on the world stage.”