Skip to main content

Trump's clean chit to Modi on human rights? Govt "generally respected" free speech, expression: US state dept report

Clean chit to Modi?
By Rajiv Shah
In a virtual clean chit and a reversal of the past US state department's viewpoint, the Donald Trump government’s first report on human rights situation in India has said that the Narendra Modi government in 2016 “generally respected” freedom of speech and expression, even though the Constitution “does not explicitly mention freedom of the press.”
The just-released “India 2016 Human Rights Report”, in fact, says, “Independent media generally expressed a wide variety of views without restriction”, insisting, “The law prohibits content that could harm religious sentiments or provoke enmity among groups, and authorities invoked these laws to restrict print media, broadcast media, and publication or distribution of books.”
Even as quoting the US-based Human Rights Watch as saying that “sedition and criminal defamation laws were used to prosecute citizens who criticize government officials or oppose state police”, the report insists that “most domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.”
Pointing out that only in “some circumstances groups faced restrictions”, the just-released report claims that the “government officials were generally responsive to NGO requests.”
Pointing out that there are “more than three million NGOs in the country advocating for social justice, sustainable development, and human rights”, the report praises the government for “generally” interacting with “domestic NGOs”, responding to their inquiries, and taking action “in response to their reports or recommendations.”
Refusing to hold the Narendra Modi government or the Sangh Parivar responsible for human rights violations, the report, in fact, seeks to consider human rights violations as largely law and order problems, arising out of societal conflicts.
Not recall even once the attacks which took place on lawyers Isha Khandelwal and Shalini Gera, academic Nalini Sundar, tribal rights activist Soni Sori and journalist Malini Subramaniam in Chhattisgarh, the report notes, in a matter-of-fact tone, that “between January 11 and 14, tribal women alleged rape and sexual assault by security forces during search operations.”
In fact, the report notes, without raising an eyebrow, how “the Chhattisgarh police arrested journalist Prabhat Singh in Dantewada for allegedly sharing a message critical of the state police on a messaging application and charged him under the Information Technology Act.”
On the communal riots in Gujarat, the only observation the report offers is: “Civil society activists continued to express concern concerning the Gujarat government’s failure to hold accountable those responsible for the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,200 persons, the majority of whom were Muslim.”
Praising the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for working “cooperatively with numerous NGOs”, the report says, “Several NHRC committees had NGO representation. Human rights monitors in Jammu and Kashmir were able to document human rights violations.”
On human rights "violations" in Kashmir valley, the report starts with criticizing “separatist insurgents and terrorists” for committing “serious abuses, including killings of armed forces personnel, police, government officials, and civilians”, adding, between January and October 2016, 223 persons were killed, compared to 174 in 2015.
Pointing out that the 2016 figure “does not include 90 persons, including violent protesters, reportedly killed by security forces during a four-month period of unrest in the summer”, the report says, "apparently" that the security forces used the deadly pellet "indiscriminately" to control crowds, including violent protests, "resulting in 87 civilian deaths and blinding hundreds more, including children.”
Without giving examples, the report says, only in "rare cases" the government applied "restrictions to the travel and activities of visiting experts and scholars”, emphasizing, “In most cases the government supported and issued visas for international academic conferences and exchanges.”
Even as recalling discrimination against Dalits, including the gruesome Una incident in Gujarat, the report praises the authorities to say, “The federal and state governments continued to implement programs for Scheduled Caste (SC) members to provide better-quality housing, reserved seats in schools, government jobs, and access to subsidized foods.”
---
Download full report HERE

Comments

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…