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Think Tank Urges Focus on Human Rights as Modi Visits Washington

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US rights groups are gearing up for protests against the upcoming state visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington. Activists from organizations like the Indian American Muslim Council, Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, and Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will gather near the White House on June 22 to voice their concerns over India’s deteriorating human rights situation.

The demonstrations come as Washington seeks closer ties with India, aiming to establish it as a counterweight to China. However, rights advocates fear that geopolitical considerations might overshadow human rights issues during the discussions.

Several groups have prepared flyers with slogans like “Modi Not Welcome” and “Save India from Hindu Supremacy” for the protests

Protests and Demonstrations:

Several groups have prepared flyers with slogans like “Modi Not Welcome” and “Save India from Hindu Supremacy” for the protests near the White House. Additionally, a New York event titled “Howdy Democracy” is planned, which alludes to the 2019 “Howdy Modi!” rally in Texas, featuring Narendra Modi and then-US President Donald Trump.

The aim of these demonstrations is to draw attention to alleged human rights abuses in India and put pressure on the Indian Prime Minister.

 

Concerns over Human Rights and Press Freedom:

Critics argue that since Modi assumed office in 2014, India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has declined significantly, reaching its lowest-ever position of 161st this year. The country also leads in the number of internet shutdowns globally for five consecutive years.

Advocacy groups highlight controversial policies, such as the 2019 citizenship law that excludes Muslim migrants and anti-conversion legislation that challenges the freedom of belief.

The revocation of Kashmir’s special status in 2019 is also seen as a human rights concern. However, the Indian government defends its policies, stating that they are aimed at the welfare of all communities and the equal enforcement of laws.

 

Biden-Modi Discussions and US Stance:

Analysts suggest that human rights issues are unlikely to take center stage during the Biden-Modi discussions, as both countries prioritize closer bilateral ties.

While the US State Department has acknowledged raising human rights concerns with Indian officials, there is a perception that Washington may tread carefully to avoid straining the relationship.

Critics argue that factors like China’s influence and long-term strategic partnership with India contribute to a more restrained approach to rights and democracy issues.

In the past, the US denied Modi a visa under a law prohibiting entry to individuals implicated in severe religious freedom violations.

History and Controversies:

In the past, the US denied Modi a visa under a law prohibiting entry to individuals implicated in severe religious freedom violations.

This decision was related to the 2002 sectarian riots in Gujarat, during which over a thousand people, predominantly Muslims, were killed.

However, when Modi became prime minister, the ban was lifted after an investigation ordered by India’s Supreme Court found no evidence to prosecute him. The Biden administration has expressed muted concern about human rights and religious freedom issues in India, but the broader geopolitical context influences its approach.

US think tank downgraded India from ‘Free’ to Partially Free’ in the annual report

Conclusion:

As Prime Minister Modi prepares for his state visit to Washington, US rights groups are organizing protests to draw attention to India’s human rights situation.

Despite concerns over rights abuses, the focus of discussions between Modi and President Biden is expected to prioritize strengthening bilateral ties and addressing geopolitical challenges.

The delicate balance between promoting human rights and fostering a strategic partnership with India remains a complex issue for the US administration.

 

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