S Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister has said that human rights issues were not discussed in bilateral dialogue with the US, he quoted “interests, lobbies and votebanks” had driven the US position, pointed to human rights violations in the US itself, and claimed that India would not be restrained about the issue.
External Affairs Minister also mentioned the issue of a case on Tuesday, when two Indian-American Sikh men were assaulted in an alleged hate crime in New York.
Saying that the issue of human rights had come up in the past – including during Blinken’s visit to India last year – Jaishankar said, “We did not discuss human rights in this meeting. This meeting was focused on pol-mil (political-military) issues.”
Human Rights : People are entitled to their views about us – India’s External Affairs Minister
Jaishankar added, “People are entitled to their views about us. But we are equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests and lobbies and votebanks that drive that. Whenever there is a discussion, we will not be reticent about speaking out.”
India, it is understood, believes that Blinken’s comment – which was one sentence in a fairly expansive set of positive remarks about the relationship – was driven by the Democratic administration’s need to cater to its “domestic constituency”. These include a set of progressive lawmakers, Muslim groups and human rights organisations.
The minister said India also had views about the human rights situation, including in the US. “We take up human rights issues when they arise in this country, especially when it pertains to our community. We had a case yesterday. That’s really where we stand on that matter.”