Days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was monitoring what he described as a rise in “human rights abuses” in India by some officials, India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the human rights issue was not a topic of discussion during the India-US 2+2 ministerial meeting this week.
However, EAM Jaishankar asserted that whenever there is a discussion, New Delhi will not be reticent about speaking out.
He said that people are entitled to have views about India, adding, “We also take our views on other people’s human rights situation, including that of the United States.”
Earlier, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said that the US is monitoring some recent “concerning developments” in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police, and prison officials.
The joint news conference after the 2+2 dialogue was addressed by Blinken, Jaishankar, Singh and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Responding to a question, EAM Jaishankar said while the issue of human rights was not discussed during the current meeting, it has come up in the past.
EAM Jaishankar stated, “On the human rights issue; no, we did not discuss human rights during this meeting. This meeting was primarily focused on political-military affairs.”
“It is a subject which has come up in the past. It came up when Secretary Blinken came to India. I think if you recall the press briefings after that I was very open about the fact that we had discussed it and said what I had to say,” S Jaishankar said.
Pushing back at the US criticism of human rights in India, EAM Jaishankar stated that people are entitled to have views about India, adding that lobbies and the vote banks drive such criticism.
“Look, people are entitled to have views about us. But we are also equally entitled to have views about their views and about the interests, and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that. So, whenever there is a discussion, I can tell you that we will not be reticent about speaking out,” he said.
He added, “I would tell you that we also take our views on other people’s human rights situation, including that of the United States. So, we take up a human rights issues when they arise in this country, especially when they pertain to our community. And in fact, we had a case yesterday that’s really where we stand on that”.