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Trump administration’s report also slams Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over police atrocities, crime against women, muzzling dissent

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government may have invested heavily over the past four years in wooing the US administration, but, if a recent report by the US Department of State is anything to go by, the Trump administration doesn’t seem impressed with India’s track record of upholding human rights.

The US Congress mandated Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 released by the country’s acting Secretary of State, John Sullivan, in Washington last week, highlights a long list of human rights abuses that have continued to rock India since Modi’s ascension to India’s prime ministerial throne and his BJP’s unabated successes in elections to provincial assemblies. These abuses include – though are not limited to – “police and security force abuses, such as extrajudicial…

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Trump administration’s report also slams Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over police atrocities, crime against women, muzzling dissent

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government may have invested heavily over the past four years in wooing the US administration, but, if a recent report by the US Department of State is anything to go by, the Trump administration doesn’t seem impressed with India’s track record of upholding human rights.

The US Congress mandated Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017 released by the country’s acting Secretary of State, John Sullivan, in Washington last week, highlights a long list of human rights abuses that have continued to rock India since Modi’s ascension to India’s prime ministerial throne and his BJP’s unabated successes in elections to provincial assemblies. These abuses include – though are not limited to – “police and security force abuses, such as extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, rape, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, and lengthy pre-trial detention.”

While Modi may have romped to power in May 2014 promising a “corruption-free India” while attacking his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh and the Congress party for failing to curb graft in the erstwhile UPA government, the US State department’s report says: “Widespread corruption… instances of censorship and harassment of media outlets…” have continued in India under the current central government.

The report also asserts: “Lack of criminal investigations or accountability for cases related to rape, domestic violence, dowry-related deaths, honor killings, sexual harassment; and discrimination against women and girls remained serious problems. Violence and discrimination based on religious affiliation, sexual orientation, and caste or tribe, including indigenous persons, also persisted due to a lack of accountability.”

In a damning indictment of the Modi’s government’s style of functioning and also of India’s justice delivery system, the report adds: “A lack of accountability for misconduct at all levels of government persisted, contributing to widespread impunity. Investigations and prosecutions of individual cases took place, but lax enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and under-resourced court system contributed to a small number of convictions.”

While the report certainly comes as an embarrassment for Modi who, over the past four years, has been promising to usher in a “New India”, it must also be mentioned that the American establishment’s claims of curbs on freedom of press and human rights abuses in India come at a time when US President Donald Trump has himself gained notoriety, and been slammed globally, for trying to roll back civil rights in his country and for persistently trying to muzzle the media.

Nevertheless, the US State Department’s report is a setback for the Modi administration as it comes at a time when New Delhi is trying very hard to woo Washington on a score of issues, including bilateral trade ties, a permanent seat in the UN Security Council among others.

— India Legal Bureau

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