PM Narendra Modi negated claims of religious bias in India at a press event alongside US President Joe Biden, despite international criticisms against his administration.
Organizations advocating for human rights and the US State Department have documented instances of mistreatment of minorities, opposition, and journalists in India. President Biden acknowledged that democratic values and human rights issues were addressed during his discussions with PM Modi at the White House.
In response to inquiries about his willingness to enhance the situation of Muslims and other minority groups and promote freedom of speech, Modi retorted that the situation doesn’t warrant improvements. He stated, “Our Constitution and government have shown that democracy can deliver. By deliver, I mean there’s no room for any form of discrimination — based on caste, creed, religion, or gender — under my leadership.”
The US State Department’s reports on religious freedom and human rights expressed unease over the treatment of Muslims, Hindu Dalits, Christians, and other minorities in India. The reports also highlighted a suppressive action against journalists.
Despite these concerns, many of Biden’s party members encouraged him to discuss these issues publicly with Modi. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for its Hindu nationalist sentiments, has been in power since 2014.
On the flip side, critics vehemently opposed Modi’s claims. Protesters gathered near the White House, claiming that India has become inhospitable for religious minorities.
The strategic and economic ties between India and the US, particularly in the face of China’s growing influence, might complicate Washington’s stance on human rights issues in India, say political analysts.
Despite these allegations, Modi reassured that his government’s policies benefit all citizens. However, rights groups argue that since Modi’s tenure began, attacks on dissidents, minorities, and journalists have increased. India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has fallen significantly, and the nation tops the list for the highest number of internet shutdowns globally.
The UN has labelled a 2019 citizenship law as discriminatory for excluding Muslim immigrants. Other controversial measures include anti-conversion laws and the revocation of Kashmir’s special status. The recent prohibition on hijabs in Karnataka classrooms under BJP rule has also sparked debates.
In an interview with CNN, former US President Barack Obama emphasized the importance of protecting the rights of minorities in India.
This news is based on an article in the Malay Mail.