India is a vibrant democracy — US

The nation has constitutionally enshrined rights for minorities, Alice Wells says

Washington: India is a vibrant democracy which has constitutionally enshrined rights for minorities for freedom of religion, a senior Trump Administration official said on Wednesday.

The United States has conversations about human rights with all countries including India, Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told Washington audience.

“India is a vibrant democracy which has constitutionally enshrined rights for minorities, for freedom of religion,” she said.

In response to a question if human rights issue came up during the recently held 2+2 Dialogue between India and the US on September 6 in New Delhi, she said, “We respect democracies. We respect democracies because we believed democracies are self correcting because there are institutions at play.”

“I think the spirit of the dialogue takes place within that framework of respect for one another and the fact that we stand for and have fought for and have been trained in institutions, these principles, and recognising that we too are not immune from criticism,” Wells said.

Asking the question, Alan Kronstadt from Congressional Research Service pointed to the increasing concern at the Hill about the religious freedom in India.

“I wanted to ask specifically about human rights. As you know, your own department puts out reports that discuss extensive human rights violations. Some of them seem to be perpetrated by the State in India,” he alleged.

“And one item that’s attracted a lot of attention on the Hill recently is the religious freedom issue under this BJP led government,” he said.

In lead up to the 2+2 Dialogue, some members of Congress wrote a letter to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to bring up some of these issues with his interlocutors and counterparts.

“Can you say if that took place during the two plus two. And how much you respond to folks who are concerned that human rights issues have fallen away when it comes to US India engagement,” Kronstadt said.


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