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

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.