Government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have heightened the dangers to human rights across the world. In this podcast by Front Line Defenders, four human-rights defenders active in various parts of India share the challenges and concerns they have confronted since the start of the country-wide lockdown. The four are Gayatri Kandhadai, the Asia policy coordinator at the Association for Progressive Communications; Anindya Hajra, from the Pratyay Gender Trust in Kolkata; Sadam Hanjabam, from Ya All, an LGBT organisation in Manipur; and a human-rights defender in Kashmir who asked to remain anonymous for reasons of security.

Condemning the Modi government’s “misuse” of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) during the Covid-19 crisis, more than 60 human rights activists, student leaders and academics, in a solidarity statement, have said that the recent arrests of human rights defenders across India have been taking place in order to save the “real culprits” involved in inciting communal and caste disturbances in the recent past. UAPA is being invoked, alleges the statement, to “engineer the attempt to save indictable people affiliated to the right-wing ruling party like Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who are still at large”, the statement says, adding, “We firmly believe that the extremely draconian and regressive amended UAPA law has been strategically put in place to exterminate both dissent and dissidents during the lockdown.” For the text and signatories Click here.