The report by the US state department flagged ‘significant human rights issues’ in India.
There’s been a lot of buzz about a recent report by the US state department on “human rights practices” across 198 countries and territories – India included. India was flagged as having “significant human rights issues” spanning multiple fields.
Screenshot from the report.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar used the tit-for-tat approach in addressing the contents of the report, telling reporters in Washington: “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.”
While multiple news outlets covered the report, there was a divergence in the angles they chose to highlight.
The New Indian Express in Chennai, for instance, skipped present-day issues like press freedom and extrajudicial killings to headline its story on how the US report had mentioned the flight of the Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s, due to “violent intimidation that included murders, destruction of temples, and rapes by Kashmiri Muslim residents”.
The New Indian Express
The Hindu’s headline in the Chennai edition was on “curbs on free speech”, noting that the report had “flagged concerns over arbitrary arrests and detentions, extra-judicial killings, violence against religious minorities, curbs on free expression and media, including unjustified prosecution of journalists..."
It also cited the report’s mention of UAPA charges and the denial of bail to activists arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.
The Times of India in Delhi – headlined “We too have views on other people’s human rights: EAM” – focused on Jaishankar’s response, as did Hindustan Times, which carried the headline “India too monitors human rights issues, including in US: Jaishankar”.
The Times of India
Human rights have been an “irritant in the relationship” between the US and India, HT noted on page 12, adding that Jaishankar had also brought up an assault this week on two Indian-origin Sikh men in the US.
The Economic Times on page 2 had a single-column headlined “Major rights issue, curbs on media in India: US report” with the strap “Also refers to status of Kashmiri Pandits, killings by terrorists”. This was alongside a report on NCP chief Sharad Pawar criticising the Modi government’s response to the US flagging its human rights issues, since Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh had been present at the time.
“The two honourable ministers should have negated the statement,” Pawar said. “At least they could have said that reports of violations were exaggerated.”
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