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This article is more than 1 year old.

 ICJ slams India for discrimination against Muslims and other minorities, failing to meet hunger needs during lockdown

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Sounding the alarm bells, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has warned India that it is on the brink of a hunger crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic adding that the government has fallen short in ensuring the right to food of its inhabitants. The ICJ has also red-flagged “discriminatory” enforcement of laws against Muslims and other minority communities during the lockdown.

 ICJ slams India for discrimination against Muslims and other minorities, failing to meet hunger needs during lockdown
Sounding the alarm bells, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has warned India that it is on the brink of a hunger crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic adding that the government has fallen short in ensuring the right to food of its inhabitants. The ICJ has also red-flagged “discriminatory” enforcement of laws against Muslims and other minority communities during the lockdown.
The ICJ is an international Human Rights NGO comprising of 60 eminent lawyers and jurists from around the world. The ICJ released a briefing paper on April 27 warning of the food crisis.
In the briefing paper, ICJ slammed the Indian government for failing to provide a plan for meeting the food requirements of all people when it announced the lockdown. The ICJ criticised the government for allowing citizens a very limited notice period to prepare for the lockdown. The ICJ briefing paper argues that the first phase of lockdown gave only four hours of notice, while the second phase of lockdown was introduced with only one day’s notice.
The ICJ briefing paper also noted various media reports that highlighted how various workers, trying to access community kitchens, were often beaten and brutalized by local police.
The briefing papers also alleged that the government was failing in uniform application and enforcement of laws, in the enforcement of laws. Citing various media reports, the briefing paper pointed out that Muslim persons, in particular, have faced severe discrimination. As an example, the paper highlights that there were many cases in Delhi and Rajasthan, where Muslim fruit and vegetable vendors were either not allowed access to certain neighborhoods or were beaten up by locals. The paper also red-flagged how Gujjar milkmen in Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab have faced boycott as well as physical violence.
The paper records, “The failure to enforce criminal law, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, for preventing acts of violence and discrimination, and to ensure the protection of food vendors is incompatible with India’s obligation to protect the right to food.”
The paper states that informal sector workers and the homeless are facing increasingly high levels of hunger during the lockdown. As per an International Labor Organization estimate, 400 million people in India are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis.
The ICJ has highlighted that India is bound under International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) to protect and fulfill human rights such as the right to food. The paper also points to how even the Indian Supreme Court has protected the right to food as a fundamental right.
ICJ briefing paper also reminds that United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has appealed to member states to ensure payment of wages and income support to workers. It recommends that the government must address structural flaws in the implementation of emergency measures, which prevent access to food for people. The paper also recommends better utilization of India’s vast buffer stock of food grains to prevent hunger and starvation.
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