United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday expressed concern about reports that India’s “divisive policies” were marginalising minority communities. In her annual report to the Geneva-based international organisation, Bachelet said that such policies could undermine India’s economic growth.
“Inequalities stir grievances and unrest; fuel hatred, violence, and threats to peace; and force people to leave their homes and countries,” she said in her address to the 40th session of the UN Human Rights Council. “Inequalities undermine social progress, and economic and political stability. But human rights build hope. They bind humanity together with shared principles and a better future, in sharp contrast to the divisive, destructive forces of repression, exploitation, scapegoating, discrimination – and inequalities.”
“In India, where there has also been significant poverty reduction in overall terms, inequality remains a serious issue,” Bachelet said. “In addition, we are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – in particular Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis.”
It appears that narrow political agendas are “driving the further marginalisation of vulnerable people”, she said, adding: “I fear that these divisive policies will not only harm many individuals, but also undermine the success of India’s economic growth story.” Bachelet highlighted major human rights violations in other parts of the world as well in her address.
Her statement came a day after Amnesty International India released a report saying nearly 70% of all alleged hate crimes in India since September 2015 were committed on the basis of caste. The organisation documented 721 alleged incidents – including rapes, assaults and murders – in the period, of which 498 were against Dalits and 156 against Muslims. As many as 103 incidents were “cow-related”, Amnesty had said.