Coronavirus | India's COVID - 19 crisis threatens human rights

6 minutes
Coronavirus | India's COVID - 19 crisis threatens human rights

At the time, I was passed into a hospital bed 'like an animal' while with COVID - 19.Who should do an urinate in the bathroom is not allowed and given a bottle in which to visit insteadUnable to eat because of a fractured jaw.

Those were the conditions under which the jailed Indian journalist Siddique Kappan described for his wife this weekend in a telephone call from a hospital in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.He is in deep pain, his wife, Raihanath, told TIME in an interview on Tuesday, a day before a top court ordered Kappan — who had diabetes — to be transferred to a different facility in New Delhi.When said that, "He is not receiving proper treatment".

Kappan, who was Muslim, in October was arrested after traveling to the village of Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the suspected gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman that sparked nationwide protests over caste injustice and sexual violence.The police have accused him and the others he was traveling with under a violent anti-terror law of being a member of a violent group that was travelling to the state to incite disturbances.Police said the men were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation and were found carrying incriminating material. His lawyer and journalist colleagues say the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment are unfounded.

Despite the Supreme Court order, Kappan has not been moved to Delhi due to a shortage of hospital beds.

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'It is shocking beyond words that such grave human rights are happening in our democracy, and so it is obvious that there is a government behind this terrible trend of denigration of political rights in Kerala, said 11 lawmakers from the home state of Kappan in an April 25 letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India. Demonetizing Kappan his human rights amid the catastrophic COVID crisis and its mismanagement further illuminates the priorities of the Indian state, says Angana Chatterji of the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley.

The police of Uttar Pradesh did not respond to a request for comment, but a lawyer representing the state said that Kappan received adequate medical treatment in prison on Wednesday according to court records.

Even as a widespread second wave of COVID 19 infections ravages India, Kappan's case has drawn deadly attention.The Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which was declared victory over the pandemic just months before they were elected, has been accused of turning a blind eye to the risks of a resurgence at the same time as cracking down on India's democratic freedoms.In 2016, journalist Dozens of journalists were arrested in the United States, according to the India-based NGO Freedom House.The government is now a leaning firm on tech companies too.At the same time as Kappan was chained to his hospital bed, the Indian government demanded that Twitter and Facebook block dozens of posts that criticized the government's handling of the pandemic, including some by established opposition officials.

India will never forgive PM Modi for underplaying the Corona situation in the country and letting so many people die due to mismanagement, said one of the tweets blocked in India after the legal demand of the Modi government.Its author, Moloy Ghatak, is a cabinet minister in the state of West Bengal where Modi's All India Trinamool Congress PartyIndia Trinamool Congress Party hopes to defeat the All India Janata PartyIndia Janata Party in the elections this spring.

On Wednesday, police in the BJP-run state of Uttar Pradesh, where Kappan is imprisoned, charged a man with's spreading misleading information' after he tweeted an oxygen pump for his grandfather.Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of the state, has ordered police to seize the property seized by anyone spreading 'rumors about oxygen shortages.Adityanath also ordered 'action' to be taken against hospitals that had reported shortages of oxygen and beds amid a spike in cases in the state, which has the highest population in India.

The Indian Supreme Court also on Wednesday dismissed a legal plea for Kappan's immediate release but ordered that he was relocated to a hospital in New Delhi.He should be discharged from this hospital to jail in Uttar Pradesh after being transferred back to the prison, the court said.

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On the press freedom index's Reporters Without Borders 2021 is India ranked 142 out of 180 countries published in April.'The unjustified detention of Daniel Bastard turned into the worst of nightmares to the point where it has now become a matter of life or death, said Sidique Kappan in a statement calling for his immediate release.Kappan should never have been arrested for trying to do his job.When he does not survive, the provincial authorities will bear responsibility for his death.

Earlier in this year, Freedom House Downgraded India'sIndia's democracy rating from partly free' to heavily free, citing attacks on press freedom as a contributing factor.The counters against press freedom have escalated dramatically under the government and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years, said the NGO.Authorities have used the security, defamation, sedition and hate speech laws as well as contempt of - court charges to quiet critical voices in media.

While independent media do exist, many fight loss against government.In February, the government passed new rules covering digital publishing which give officials the power to shut down a story or even completely new websites.There are very few independent news channels in the country, says Dr. Gagandeep Kang, co-author of Till We Win: India's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

So tell TIME how deeply their colleague remembers him as a peaceful and composed reporter who seldom shows frustration or anger.His reporting, she said, tends to focus on those persecuted by the law — which is why he traveled to report from his base in Uttar Pradesh to identify the Gang-rape in Delhi.'He speaks for persecuted people, Raihanath says.He reports the truth and avoids thinking about the consequences for himself.

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