International

Blinken says US monitoring rise in rights abuses in India

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said that the U.S. was monitoring “recent concerning” developments in India with regards to the rise in alleged human rights abuses by government officials in the country.

Blinken shared his comments on the sidelines of a meeting with India at a joint press conference that included Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.

“We also share a commitment to our democratic values, such as protecting human rights. We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values, and to that end we’re monitoring some recent concerning developments in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials,” he added.

Both Indian officials did not comment on Blinken’s statement during their prepared remarks on Monday.

The secretary’s comments come days after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) questioned Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman over dealings with the Indian government when she testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

The Minnesota Democrat asked Sherman why the Biden Administration had failed to criticize the Modi government on the issue of human rights.

“How much does the Modi administration have to criminalize the act of being Muslim in India for us to say something? And I ask you again, what will it take for us to outwardly criticize the actions that the Modi administration is taking against its Muslim minorities in India?” she asked, according to Indian news outlet The Print.

Indian social media has seen dozens of videos of violence and threats of violence in Muslim neighborhoods across the country amid reports from Indian media of clashes between Hindus and Muslims during a religious festival.

The South Asian country has been witnessing a surge of Hindu nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party since he was first elected in 2014.

Modi introduced a new law in 2019 that gives citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution from other countries that critics say is biased against Muslims.

Protesters previously said that the new law is biased against India’s Muslim community, which totals 180 million citizens, and those of the surrounding countries.

Recently, a court ruling in the Indian state of Karnataka upholding a ban on Muslim students wearing head coverings in schools sparked criticism from constitutional scholars and rights activists who say that judicial overreach threatens religious freedoms in officially secular India, The Associated Press reported.

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken Ilhan Omar india Lloyd Austin Narendra Modi Narendra Modi Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Wendy Sherman

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