The US-based think tank Freedom House has downrated India from free to partially free. The think tank also expressed apprehensions that the world's largest democracy is moving towards authoritarianism under the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Under Modi, India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all," Freedom House stated in its report. The annual report by Freedom House also talks about the threats for Indian Muslims. "Attacks against Muslims and others in connection with the alleged slaughter or mistreatment of cows, which are held to be sacred by Hindus, continued in 2020," the report states.
The think tank also talks about scapegoating Muslims as "potential spreaders of the virus". The report reads, "In 2020, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's Muslims were widely and speciously blamed for spreading the coronavirus, including by ruling-party officials."
It also talked about the "ham-fisted" nationwide lockdown imposed to control the spread of coronavirus. Under this lockdown, many labourers were forced to walk miles on foot since they did not have access to basic supplies and services in the cities.
"In September, 32 individuals charged with orchestrating the illegal 1992 demolition of a prominent mosque in the state of Uttar Pradesh were acquitted by a special court, despite substantial evidence of their culpability. Among those exonerated were several high-profile members of the BJP. Modi had laid the foundation stone for a new Hindu temple on the site a month earlier, after a long-awaited 2019 Supreme Court judgment had permitted the construction of a temple there. The mosque had stood on the site for centuries prior to its unlawful destruction," the American think tank said on the Ram Mandir construction in Ayodhya.