In­dian govt finds rare crit­i­cism in US

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Washington, US -

For the past two decades In­dia has been en­thu­si­as­ti­cally feted in Washington, with politi­cians across the spec­trum ea­ger to nur­ture an al­liance be­tween the two largest democ­ra­cies.

But as Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi pushes for­ward his Hindu na­tion­al­ist agenda, In­dia has sud­denly found it­self in an un­usual po­si­tion - fac­ing rep­ri­mands from the United States.

Few ob­servers ex­pect a se­ri­ous de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of re­la­tions, and In­dia’s For­eign and De­fence Min­is­ters are due in Washington on Wed­nes­day for wide-rang­ing talks that could fur­ther boost the coun­tries’ mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship.

Still, Washington’s long rev­er­en­tial tone to­wards In­dia, in­clud­ing muted re­ac­tions on human rights is­sues, has shifted af­ter Modi re­voked au­ton­omy to Kash­mir and par­lia­ment passed a ci­ti­zen­ship law that op­po­nents say dis­crim­i­nates against Mus­lims.

Af­ter the ci­ti­zen­ship law’s ap­proval, a State Depart­ment spokesper­son said, “The United States urges In­dia to pro­tect the rights of its re­li­gious mi­nori­ties in keep­ing with In­dia’s con­sti­tu­tion and demo­cratic val­ues’. Sam

Brown­back, the US en­voy on re­li­gious free­dom, voiced re­spect for In­dia’s in­sti­tu­tions. How­ever he said the United States was ‘con­cerned’ with the ci­ti­zen­ship bill, and called on In­dia to ‘abide by its con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­ments’.

Crit­i­cism has been more strongly worded from out­side the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A res­o­lu­tion pro­posed by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pramila Jaya­pal, a Demo­crat born in In­dia, urges New Delhi to free peo­ple rounded up in Kash­mir since au­ton­omy was ter­mi­nated in Au­gust, to lift re­main­ing re­stric­tions on com­mu­ni­ca­tions and to al­low human rights ob­servers and for­eign jour­nal­ists to en­ter.

It also im­plic­itly crit­i­cises Pak­istan, ac­knowl­edg­ing the chal­lenges from ‘state-spon­sored cross-bor­der ter­ror­ism’.

In the most out­spo­ken crit­i­cism, the US Com­mis­sion on In­ter­na­tional Re­li­gious Free­dom called for sanc­tions to be con­sid­ered against Home Min­is­ter Amit Shah over the ci­ti­zen­ship bill.

The Com­mis­sion, which ad­vises the US gov­ern­ment but does not set pol­icy, called the bill ‘a dan­ger­ous turn in the wrong di­rec­tion’.

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