The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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In the name of Freedom of Religion Acts, many state governments interfere with religious freedom. The punishment under these acts is to be doubled if the offence has been committed in respect of a minor, a woman or a person belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe community...In practice, the Freedom of Religious Act applies while converting to Christianity and Islam and not while converting to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism.

Freedom of association and assembly: While the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly is generally exercised in India, the police sometimes deny the right to freedom of association. The police do not exercise necessary restraints while dealing with students’ demonstrators. Tibetan students are often cane-charged when they attempt to exercise the right to freedom of association and assembly by organising demonstrations during the visit of the Chinese government delegates.

Freedom from torture: The annual reports of the national human rights commission are indicative of endemic torture in India and its use in the administration of the criminal justice system. According to NHRC’s annual reports, it received complaints of 34 custodial deaths (in police custody and judicial custody) in 1993-94; 162 custodial deaths/custodial rapes in 1994-95, 444 custodial deaths in 1995-96, 888 custodial deaths in 1996-97, 1,012 custodial deaths in 1997-98, 1,297 custodial deaths in 1998-99, 1,093 in 1999-2000 and 1,037 in 2000-2001. Therefore, the description of torture of children in India in one paragraph, exactly in 194 words is scandalous by any yardstick and an affront to the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (paras 38-41) made in January 2000. Torture of children especially in armed conflict situation is rampant.

Despite rampant corporal punishment in schools, the government’s periodic report makes no reference to the issue.

Access to appropriate information: The children in India are being denied appropriate information after the government undertook the exercise to re-write the history textbooks. The National Council of Education, Research and Training textbooks such as Modern Indian History and Contemporary World History for Class XII students contain serious factual errors. The social studies textbook of the Gujarat State Board of School Textbook for Class 9...students identifies Muslims and Christians as “foreigners”. The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are identified as ignorant, illiterate and followers of blind faith. This is contrary to universal affirmation that “all doctrines, polices and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin, racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust”.

Right to education: Shockingly, of the 900 million illiterate in the world, almost one-third belong to India. In other words, Indians constitute the largest number of uneducated people in the world. According to the 14th report of the parliamentary committee on empowerment of women of the Lok Sabha, lower house of Indian parliament of August 5, 2003 an estimated 60 million children are still out of schools, of which 35 million were girls. The population of children in the age group 6-14 is 192 million. Of these 157 million children are enrolled in schools and the number of out of school children in the age group 6-14 is 35 million of which 25 million are girls.

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