Religious freedom in India ‘worse’ : US Commission recommends sanctions

The US Commission on Religious Freedom has once again recommended special restrictions, calling the situation of religious freedom in India “worse” under the Hindu nationalist regime.

A demonstrator is detained during a protest against a new citizenship law, in Delhi, India, December 19, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

This is the third consecutive year that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that India be placed on a “list of countries of grave concern”, according to AFP.

The recommendation has caused outrage in New Delhi and is certain to be rejected by the state department.

The US panel appointed to make the recommendations, in its annual report, expressed grave concern about South Asia and supported the State Department’s decision to blacklist Pakistan.

This panel is appointed to make recommendations but does not formulate US policy.

The commission pointed to the “numerous” attacks on religious minorities in India, especially Muslims and Christians, in 2021, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government pursued “its own ideological stance of a Hindu state” through anti-minority policies.

The report says that the situation of religious freedom in India has become very serious.

In its report, the commission pointed to the culture of impunity, and arrests of journalists and human rights activists for the nationwide campaign of intimidation and violence by mobs and various activist groups.

In previous years, the Indian government had rejected the commission’s findings, accusing it of bias.

US President Joe Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, has sought to expand ties with India as a common ally in the face of emerging power China.

Biden is also expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Tokyo next month on the sidelines of the Quad quadripartite summit with Japan and Australia.

The US commission also recommended that Afghanistan be blacklisted after the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan and that Nigeria be re-listed, which the Biden administration had earlier removed from the list.

Countries on the US State Department’s blacklist of religious freedom that could be subject to sanctions include China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, federal commission created in 1998 through the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). USCIRF uses international standards, such as Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to monitor violations of religious freedom or belief abroad.


Ilhan Omar : Practice of Congressional travel through sponsorship

Indian government has made hue and cry over the visit of Congresswoman’s visit to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. 

Indian’s External affairs spokesman used a very harsh words to describe her visit and said she pursued a narrow minded politics. 

Indian government and Indian must know that US lawmakers can visit foreign countries on official visits and sponsored visits. The US laws sanctions foreign travel visits sponsored by a non-profit organization. 

One of their Indians favorite lawmaker Rep. Tulsi Gabbad(D-HI) accepted sponsorship from a nonprofit organization and made a controversial trip to Syria where she met Bashar al-Asad. 

According to the House Rule 25 of the House of Representatives members and staff must file reports detailing any travel related expenses reimbursed by a non-government source. 

Indians must also know that Under Section 304 of the honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 all these reports are published online by the Office of the clerk. 

As far is Kashmir is concerned it is a disputed territory. The case of Kashmir was taken to the UN by its own founding father Mr. Nehnru. 

This is the first time in recent times that US has directly implicated Indian government officials in human rights abuses.

Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times

On Tuesday, the US State Department released a strong and critical report on human rights in India in 2021.

“We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values, 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,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. (ANI)

…this is the first time in recent times that US has directly implicated Indian government officials in human rights abuses.

The Indian ministers did not respond on the dais.

Blinken’s remarks and the report come in the wake of a push by some progressive lawmakers in the Democratic Party, minority advocacy groups, and human rights organisations which have accused India of democratic backsliding in recent years. People familiar with the relationship said that the message appeared to be an effort to cater to a “domestic constituency” in the US.

Last week, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, at a congressional hearing, asked US deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, “How much does the Modi administration have to criminalise the act of being Muslim in India for us to say something? What will it take for us to outwardly criticise the action that the Modi administration is taking against its Muslim minorities?”

And in January, on India’s Republic Day, four Democratic lawmakers — Sentator Ed Markey and Congressmen Andy Levin, Jamie Raskin and Jim McGovern — had flagged an erosion in Indian democracy and secularism.

Commenting on Blinken’s remarks, political scientist Devesh Kapur of Johns Hopkins University, who has extensively worked on India’s internal security and state capacity, said it was important to understand the larger division of power in India’s federal architecture.

“Does India have human rights issues in prison and with the police? Yes. But we should remember that police and law and order are state subjects. Are there undertrials waiting for long? Yes. But we should remember that district courts have huge pendency issues. All of this is happening largely at the state-level.”

Kapur added that the Centre’s actions haven’t helped. “There are, of course, now newer issues with central legislations which can be considered excessive, such as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. We also know that there is intolerance, be it with government actions in Kashmir, or vis a vis attitude to critics. But while discussing human rights violations, it is important to keep India’s federal architecture in mind.”

US report points to widespread human rights abuses in India

US State Department says it has received credible reports of violence against Muslims – File Photo: Dawn News

The latest report released by the US State Department has identified widespread human rights violations in India.

According to the Dawn newspaper, these violations include serious human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings by government agents, violence against Muslims and massacres in occupied Kashmir by government and non-government forces.

A report released earlier this week by a senior US official warned that if India increased its oil exports from Russia, it would have repercussions.

U.S. human rights groups have also noted that the Indian government has recently banned schoolgirls from wearing the hijab in the state of Karnataka.

The move drew international criticism, but the state High Court upheld the ban.

The State Department says it has received credible reports of Muslims being targeted in parts of India.

The report added that “in some areas, the Muslim community has been the victim of sectarian and racist violence, with violence continuing throughout the year, accusing the Muslim community of physical abuse, prejudice, forced migration and cattle smuggling.” ۔

The State Department says it has received reports of “massive human rights violations” in India, including “unlawful and arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents, torture and police and prisons.” Cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the authorities.

The report added another area of concern, citing “severe and deadly prison conditions, arbitrary arrests and detentions by government officials, political imprisonment or detention, and arbitrary or illegal interference with confidentiality.” Gone

The report said that India is a democratic country but it is common here to use violence, threats of violence, or arbitrary arrests or prosecution of journalists, use criminal contempt laws to prosecute social media speeches while freedom of expression is common. Freedom of the Internet, including opinions and media, is restricted.

India has “extremely strict rules on funding NGOs and civil society organizations, or operations and rehabilitation of refugees.”

The report highlights another concern: “serious government corruption, governmental harassment of national and international human rights organizations.”


Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, India’s first strong condemnation of civilian casualties in Bocha

India has strongly condemned the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bocha. It has called for an independent inquiry into the killings. This is the first time that India has used harsh words on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

India has refrained from blaming Russia for the killings in Ukraine. But this is the first time it has used the word “condemnation” in its public statement on the Ukraine war.

UN Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called for an independent inquiry into the killings.

The statement was made by Permanent Representative of India to the UN TS Trimurthy during a meeting of the Security Council on Ukraine. The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky also addressed the meeting via video conferencing.

Russia denies killing civilians in Bocha Moscow says the photos of the bodies being shown were made in a photoshop. Russian forces have avoided targeting civilians from the beginning. That is why this war is taking so long.

Foreign Minister SJ Shankar in his statement in the Lok Sabha condemned the killings in Bocha and supported the demand for an independent inquiry.

Regarding the killings in Bocha, J. Shankar said that India was disturbed by these reports. We strongly condemn the deaths that have taken place there. This is a serious matter and India supports its independent investigation.

Prior to Trimurti’s statement, Indian Foreign Minister Dr SJ Shankar had a telephone conversation with his US counterpart Anthony Blanken. The two spoke for the second time in a week.

TS Trimurti said the recent killings of civilians in Bocha were disturbing. New Delhi strongly condemns it and supports the demand for an independent inquiry.

Is India’s position changing?

Following Trimurti’s statement on civilian casualties in Bocha, the question is being raised as to whether India’s position on Ukraine is changing.

Dr. Zakir Hussain, a senior analyst on international affairs, told VOA that TS Trimurthy’s statement should not be taken to mean that India’s position is changing.

It should be noted that India and Russia have so far taken a neutral and balanced stance on the Ukraine conflict.

It abstained from voting on resolutions condemning Russia at the UN Security Council and other platforms.

Dr. Zakir Hussain says that it is true that India has used the word ‘condemnation’ for the first time but it is also true that it did not mention Russia in its statement. He spoke in support of the US Alliance, but said that maintaining some independence was important.

People are not stupid. They know what India means by this condemnation.

‘US is putting pressure on India’

Government sources are also denying any change in India’s position. According to him, India’s demand for an independent inquiry is in support of the UN Secretary General’s proposal. This does not mean that India is changing its stance on the Ukraine-Russia war.

Referring to New Delhi’s efforts, he added that India has also tried to please the United States in recent times. It has increased oil and gas imports from the United States by 11%. India imports most of its energy from the United States. About 18 to 20 percent of US oil is coming to India.

In his view, India’s position is based on its own national interests. It is also a fact that he cannot completely ignore the United States and he cannot leave Russia. India is dependent on Russia for weapons and energy.

Source : Voice of America Urdu Service Website

US acknowledges Pakistan’s key regional role in the region

The United States reaffirmed its commitment to continue its military relationship with Pakistan.  The US
acknowledged sacrifices made by Pakistan in fight against terrorism. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that Pakistan and its people are victims of terrorist attacks. This statement is very important considering the recent constraint in relations between the two countries. 

This statement came two days after the Delhi-Washington Joint Declaration.  In this declaration the US and India blamed Pakistan for cross border terrorism and asked Pakistan to punish the came two days after the Delhi-Washington Joint Declaration. They also asked Pakistan to make sure that its territory should not be used for terrorist attacks against any other country. 

I think this kind of demand from Pakistan is not right. No country can monitory the activities of terrorists completely. Pakistan is a poor country and it does not have the resources to monitor such activities. Despite its limited resources Pakistan is doing a great job and have been making sacrifices to contain and kill the terrorist in its terrorists. 

It is also a historical fact that Pakistan, which emerged after the partition of India in 1947, faced threats to its security and independence from India, which made the new state consider US military agreements as a means of protection. 

Where were the Americans sleeping when the Indian was training the Mukti Bhani insurgents? India’s action resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan. 

I think that the baseless allegations made against Pakistan in the April 11 US-India Declaration are used by India to cover up its state terrorism and atrocities against the Kashmiri people.

China-Pakistan friendship is not part of a nexus against any other country. On the contrary, Islamabad-Beijing friendship became a means of establishing relations between the United States and China.

The Pakistani Foreign Office has responded to the allegations and rejected them, informing the United States of its position at the diplomatic level. Diplomatic channels are the right way to inform countries of their concerns. This is to be borne in mind in the context of seven decades of Pak-US relations There are many aspects of these relations, including military cooperation, economic interests, role in international forums, social welfare and the need for regional peace and stability, which has become a necessity for Pakistanis not to be part of the Cold War. It is in the interest of both countries to move forward despite the policy. Pakistan has made every effort to promote world peace, not just in the region, which is no longer possible for anyone to ignore.

Source: Jang Editorial

An Introduction to Hindutva and it’s Role in Modern Indian Politics

An Introduction to Hindutva and it’s Role in Modern Indian Politics

Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, is the ideology of the majority of members of the BJP and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Hindutva is an ideology which seeks to establish “Hindu culture” as a dominant culture in India.

Hindutva was first coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923. It was popularized by V.D. Savarkar in his 1923 book “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?”.

It has been used ever since as a major political ideology of India. Hindutva has been one of the major factors in the Hindu-Muslim conflict in India.

The RSS was founded in 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and it has been one of the most powerful right-wing organizations in India since its inception. The RSS has been involved with many Hindu nationalist movements, including Mahasabha and Abhinav Bharat.

This ideology has played a significant role in shaping the BJP’s influence in Indian politics. The BJP has been successful at using Hindutva to create an image of themselves as a Hindu nationalist party.

Hindutva is not a new phenomenon in India. The Indian National Congress, the Hindu Mahasabha, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have all been instrumental in shaping Hindutva. The BJP has also contributed to the ideology of Hindutva through its support for the Ram Janmabhoomi campaign, the destruction of Babri Masjid and its subsequent political use of it.

Hindutva advocates are against all forms of Islam, Christianity, and other religions that do not belong to the Hindu faith. Hindutva has been used as an excuse for violence against minorities in India and it has created a sense of fear among them.

This hinders the cause of freedom in India because it limits who can participate in public life by restricting people who are not Hindus from participating in public life.

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