WASHINGTON: The United States is monitoring a rise in human rights abuses in India, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday in a rare direct rebuke by Washington of New Delhi’s rights record.
“We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values (of human rights) and to that end, we are monitoring some recent concerning developments in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials,” Blinken said in a joint press briefing with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Blinken did not elaborate. Singh and Jaishankar, who spoke after Blinken at the briefing, did not comment on the human rights issue.
Blinken’s remarks came days after Ilhan Omar, a congresswoman, questioned the “reluctance of the US government to criticise Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on human rights”.
“What does Modi need to do to India’s Muslim population before we will stop considering them a partner in peace?” Omar, who belongs to President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, said last week.
Modi’s critics say his party has fostered religious polarisation since coming to power in 2014.
Since Modi came to power, right-wing Hindu groups have launched attacks on minorities claiming they are trying to prevent religious conversions. Several Indian states have passed or are considering anti-conversion laws that challenge the constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief.
In 2019, the government passed a citizenship law that critics said undermined India’s secular constitution by excluding Muslim migrants from neighbouring countries.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022