Who’s Really in Charge of the Indian Government?

Report: Amit Shah Wields Outsized Influence of Modi’s Domestic Policies

Human Rights Index has published an explosive new report exploring and analyzing the role India’s Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Anil Chandra Shah, plays on national and global politics.

The report examines Shah’s sphere of influence, the ramifications of decisions he has made, and the worries expressed by global stakeholders.

The report by Human Rights Index has delved deep into the role Shah plays in Indian politics. The findings indicate that whilst Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is very much the public face of Indian politics, the impact and influence Shah wields cannot be overlooked. The two men have had a long-standing political affiliation despite Shah’s political journey being fraught with allegations of human rights violations, divisive policies, silencing dissent, and terrible treatment of marginalized groups.

In recent times, Shah has faced intense scrutiny for his handling of the Manipur refugee crisis, his reluctance to pursue a comprehensive solution, and his support for the Citizenship Amendment Act which has sparked protests and drawn international condemnation.

The Human Rights Index compelling report boldly raises a pivotal question: is international condemnation sufficient given the geopolitical instability Shah’s policies have inflicted on the region?

The report urges global leaders to counteract the pernicious impact of Shah’s influence and impact and demonstrate their commitment to upholding democracy and supporting geopolitical stability in the region.

After all, Shah’s disregard for human rights affects the stability of those within and outside Indian borders. The ongoing civil unrest India in is not only a domestic issue. It has repercussions throughout the region and is seeping into international relations.

The Human Rights Index report, grounded in research and accurate political analysis, has found that Shah plays a pivotal role in far-right nationalism. This ideology is leading to internal and external conflicts that are alarming global leaders, especially those in the European Union, the UK, and the US.

Let’s examine some of the key findings in the report, unraveling the reasons why they should set off alarm bells in the corridors of power.

The Rise of India’s Police State

A key component of Shah and Modi’s policies has been the centralization of policing. In a country where the military, security agencies, and policing forces already proliferate, recent years have seen the ascent of what can only be described as India’s burgeoning police state.

The creation of new agencies such as the Special Investigation Agency in Jammu and Kashmir, and Bihar’s new Special Armed Police heralds a new chapter in the emergence of the police state. What is more concerning is that some of the powers granted to these new agencies lack the solid foundation of constitutional backing.

Shah’s oversight and control over India’s police forces is concerning for citizens, political analysts, and human right advocates who have raised concerns relating to accountability, transparency, and abuses of power.

Commentators have criticized Shah for introducing agencies without due legislative process. It is no coincidence that these agencies have come at a time when Shah has doubled down on his commitment to silencing his critics and the voice of dissidents.

Human Rights Abuses 

Shah already has a very checkered past when it comes to human rights.  His political journey is characterized by allegations of human rights abuses and religious discrimination.

Shah’s handling of protests, especially the protests relating to the Citizenship Amendment Act involved the use of force, human rights violations, and detentions.

Amnesty International has commented on the rise in police brutality cases and arbitrary uses of power, criticizing Shah’s handling of protests and his restriction of personal freedoms.

Article 14 – Citizenship Amendment Act

Shah’s legislative maneuvers have led to criticisms that he is trying to reshape India’s democracy and constitution without following due process.  Several key policy initiatives he has introduced including the Citizenship Amendment Act (CCA) have been criticized as disenfranchising minorities and going against legal due process.

Shah has also been accused of political interference and manipulation.  His seemingly unchecked influence over law enforcement has sparked debates about the integrity and independence of law enforcement in India.

Critics have also raised concerns about Shah’s propensity for centralization which has led to the undermining of federal agencies and a reduction in the autonomy of individual states.

Racism and Discrimination 

According to Human Rights Watch, Shah has played an instrumental role in embedding policies and laws that systematically discriminate against Muslims and other minority groups including women, Muslims, Jews, and the LGBTQ+ community.

These racist and discriminatory policies have infiltrated formerly independent institutions including law enforcement agencies and courts. Not only has this blatant discrimination adversely affected minorities within India, but it has also tarnished India’s global reputation.

Shah has been vocal in his unwavering support for Article 14 of the CCA which clearly undermines the rights of minorities and leads to exclusion and statelessness.

The Human Rights Index report exposes Shah’s support for policies that promote forced religious conversion and the infringement of religious and women’s rights as concerning. It references concerns from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who have sounded the alarm on the erosion of religious freedoms, emboldening  Hindu nationalists to target and harass Muslims and other religious minorities.

Security and Surveillance 

Shah’s policies have significantly ramped up national security and surveillance, raising concerns about the infringement of privacy and civil liberties.  These concerns are amplified by the seemingly absent safeguards that should be in place for Shah’s centralized monitoring system.

This is especially disconcerting given Shah’s track record of silencing critics and targeting political opponents.

The Human Rights Index report found that Shah’s support for expanding the National Intelligence Grid adversely impacts civil liberties and individual freedoms. There appears to be a lack of transparency in the government’s surveillance activities which impacts the right of free speech and debate.


Setting aside criticisms of heavy-handed policies and infringement of human rights, Shah’s career has been marred by a litany of controversies (personal and political). During his tenure as Minister of State for Home Affairs in Gujrat, allegations of extrajudicial killings cast a shadow over his leadership.

Serious accusations about the manipulation of the electoral roll and voter suppression in West Bengal have also haunted Shah, compounded by his provocative and discriminatory language during election campaigns which have stoked communal tensions.

As far back as 2002, Shah was accused of not doing enough to control the 2002 riots in which hundreds of Muslims were killed.  The Human Rights Index report has found many other controversies and legal battles linked to Shah including cases relating to illegal surveillance, electoral malpractice, and fake encounters.  These allegations have not only damaged his reputation but also the integrity of the entire Indian legal system and rule of law.

Perhaps the most haunting allegation to mar Shah’s political career revolves around allegations relating to murder. Despite being charged, Shah was acquitted amongst claims that the case was influenced by political considerations and questionable circumstances.

Connection to Russia 

One of the most concerning aspects of Amit Shah’s international policy is his connection to Putin and Russia.  At a time of heightened geopolitical instability in the region, India has continued to strengthen its defense ties and diplomatic links with Russia.

Shah’s pivotal role in building relations with Russia, despite a backdrop of international condemnation of Russia’s war with Ukraine, has raised alarms with the international community and human rights organizations.

While Shah attempts a diplomatic balancing act between maintaining relations with global leaders and Russia, India’s strategic alignment with Russia is a concern.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Shah is determined to advance India’s far-right nationalist political agenda. His dominance and influence over India’s political landscape is already having national and global security implications.

As global voices of dissent against India’s human right abuses, and erosion of democracy and governance gain momentum, a pressing question emerges: when will Shah be held accountable for his far-right ideology, human rights abuses, and support for Russia?

India’s formidable presence on the international stage, economically and politically, cannot be overlooked or underestimated by G20 leaders.

Whilst the complexity and controversy surrounding Modi and the BJP have always been in the shadows of their rise to power, the global community needs to take more definitive action and engage with India on critical issues and concerns raised in the Human Rights Index report.

A full copy of the report is available here.

The Human Rights Index remains dedicated to raising awareness about human rights abuses and infringements in India and the trauma this inflicts on refugees and other minorities.