Washington: Joined by former vice-president Hamid Ansari, four US lawmakers, including a senator, expressed concerns on Wednesday over the current human rights situation in India.
The Indian government and the ruling BJP deny these allegations.
“As the Indian government continues to target the practices of minority faiths, it creates an atmosphere where discrimination and violence can take root. In recent years, we have seen an uptick in online hate speeches and acts of hate, including vandalised mosques, torched churches, and communal violence,” Senator Ed Markey said.
Democratic Senator Markey, who has a history of taking anti-India stands, including opposing the India-US civil nuclear deal during the Manmohan Singh government, was speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Indian-American Muslim Council. Participating in the virtual panel discussion from India, former vice president Ansari expressed his concern over the rising trend of Hindu nationalism.
“In recent years, we have experienced the emergence of trends and practices that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism and interpose a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism….It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate otherness, and promote disquiet and insecurity,” he alleged.
The three other Congressmen who spoke during the panel discussion – Jim McGovern, Andy Levin and Jamie Raskin – have traditionally taken anti-India stands irrespective of the governments in power in New Delhi.
“There have been a lot of problems with the issue of religious authoritarianism and discrimination taking place in India,” Raskin said. “So we want to make sure that India stays on the path of respecting religious liberty, freedom, pluralism, toleration and dissent for everybody,” he added.
“Regrettably, today, the world’s largest democracy is seeing backsliding, human rights under attack and religious nationalism. Since 2014, India has fallen from 27 to 53 on the Democracy Index. And Freedom House has downgraded India from free to partly free,” Levin said.
McGovern, co-chair of the powerful Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US House of Representatives, listed several warning signs that showed India’s “alarming backsliding” on human rights, according to a media release issued by the Indian American Muslim Council.