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HomeDiplomacyUS Congress raises Assam NRC issue, members question minorities’ situation in India

US Congress raises Assam NRC issue, members question minorities’ situation in India

Top official Alice Wells says US govt is encouraging India to protect vulnerable individuals, including the 1.9 million people left out of the final NRC list.

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New Delhi: Much to India’s surprise, the US Congress has not just raised the issue of continued restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, but also of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, in a discussion about the condition of minority communities in India, especially Muslims.

The US Congress Tuesday asked a significant number of questions on the publication of the final draft of the NRC in Assam.

In her opening remarks, Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs said, “We encourage the Government of India to fully uphold the universal right to religious freedom; protect vulnerable individuals, including the 1.9 million people in Assam at risk of statelessness because of questions about their citizenship; condemn all incidents of violence; and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Tough questioning

Wells and Robert Destro, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, were asked some sharp questions by members of both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Destro said the NRC exercise is being “closely” monitored by the State Department, and that it has urged India to take human rights issues into consideration.

Republican Ted Yoho asked both Wells and Destro if Muslims and Sikhs were being treated unfairly, to which Destro replied that “India’s Constitution provides for secularism and we want the same to continue.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota asked whether the US government was taking up the NRC issue in a stronger way. “Are we waiting for Muslims in Assam to be put in detention?” she asked.

Wells replied that the judicial process was still open and available to all those who are affected by the decision, and that the “Indian institutions still working”.

Destro also mentioned the Citizenship Amendment Bill in an answer, saying it gives a presumption of citizenship to some religious groups and leaves Muslims out.

Brad Sherman, chair of the sub-committee on South Asia within the US Congress, who is also democratic co-chair of the India Caucus, said on the NRC issue that “human rights abuse doesn’t cease to be human rights abuse just because it is consistent with law”.

Also read: Concerned by situation in J&K though we support India’s development agenda, says US

Is India on the back foot?

Experts say the NRC and Article 370 are both India’s internal matters, but their implementation will be monitored and questioned.

According to a former Ambassador of India to the US, who did not wish to be named, when it comes to human rights, the US Congress, which has an oversight function with the US administration, can raise any issue.

Former diplomat Rakesh Sood added, “The US House sub-committee is discussing the condition of minorities and their human rights, be it under NRC or Article 370 or another provision. These concerns arise from decisions India has taken domestically. The Indian government has to implement these decisions properly so that concerns are adequately addressed and minorities feel that their human rights are safeguarded.

“It is up to the government to be able to address these issues to the satisfaction of the minorities in India. The US has taken cognisance of NRC and Article 370 because concerns about their implementation have been raised in the Indian media and in Parliament,” Sood said.

“The Indian government needs to ensure that the NRC exercise and Article 370 are administered in a manner where perceptions that human rights are violated or rights of minorities are impacted are not generated at home among our own citizens.”

Also read: US security aid to Pakistan will remain suspended pending decisive action


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  1. Kashmir Issue –
    The US Congressmen are the representatives of people and people with Pakistani Origin approach them to take these questions in the discussion, and many a times a propaganda and lobbying machinery works behind the scenes, which Pakistan is playing well. Discussion on Kashmir hence is not a surprise. What surprises more is that no discussion on Pakistan and what is happening inside it. This also means that the US Congress representatives are indirectly supporting the terrorism in Pakistan. Europe will one day become an “Islamic State”, and if this is not worrying them, then it will be too late by the time they realize it, just like they did with Israel. Another surprise is no discussion on Kashmiri Pandits and the ethnic cleansing happened there. Under the pretext of secularism and liberalism, these liberals are digging graves for their future children. Islam is standing tall and working a lot to erode the existing civilizations and cultures. The Kashmiri people who raped and killed and drove away the Kashmiri Pandits, were not terrorists but common muslim people there, the neighbours of the Kashmiri Pandits. So you cannot make a blind eye towards this and just focus on terrorism. We must appreciate what China is doing with Uighar Muslims and must follow the same pattern in India they must be de-radicalized and religion must be made irrelevant by penetrating the social strata.

  2. Please go look at your own country and fix these things then come back…to avoid looking stupid one here should care..
    -Untested rape kits stacked over 50.000 -Where is the rape capital? (google for proof) Women rights ?
    -Cops Shooting minorities aka black people dead for no reason all over US and walk . minorities justice?
    -Gun crimes rampant , mass shooting rampant with no solution in sight,
    -Rule of law is a joke in US when it comes to fiscal crimes , no one goes to jail or even admits guilt . Be it Wells Fargo Bank opening fake accounts and charging its customers or Goldman Sachs etc looting public and walking ..because ‘Rule of Law” is written by looter bought and paid for law makers.
    -Wars in Iraq and Libya for fake or no reason killing millions ? where Human Rights? and these idiots are crying over no internet in kashmir? what a frekin joke.
    -Mexican boarder holding with kids in cages ?
    -Sanctions on many countries affecting people for no fault of people? Venenzuela etc..?
    -Should i continue?
    Nationalists Yes!! Globalists No!!

  3. The US congress has many new entrants. 20 years ago,they could not spot India on a world map. This lady’s president thinks the Mexicans as foreigners in the US and not a minority in the same US He however does want India to consider Bangla Deshi as a minority and not a foreigner, Fads come and go,

  4. We in India are very concerned about the fate of over 11 million undocumented immigrants in US who are living in the shadows of the society with no access to healthcare or education. US must do everything possible to secure their human rights and their right to live.

  5. India has to be tough on illegal immigrants. Arab countries regularly deport illegal Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, including other Arabs and African Muslims. USA does the same to every illegal person. Why blame India then.

  6. Just watched Shekhar Gupta’s video on Congressional hearing. As usual eloquent. However, I see apology in his analysis. Agree that Modi wants to be seen as a global statesman, in which case he should rein his No. 2 on issues directly linked to human rights. However, one should watch the media coverage in some of the European countries when mass shootings happen in the US. Many TV journalists mince no words when condemning US gun laws, and make fun of those spokespersons who rationalise this law. How much does US care about its soft power? How much could Obama, the saintly president do anything about it? Isn’t it time that US does a constitutional amendment in response to the media criticism it faces for its archaic and anarchic gun laws? Why does India need to behave like gentle Buddha or be over-sensitive about such hearings and criticisms? That said, Modi is not just poor in handling India’s economy, but also lacks the will to deal with China as his government suffers from lack of coherent strategy on all these national security issues. Modi must get rid of his Nehru-Indira complex and come down to Earth to prove that he is egalitarian and benign. Indians meanwhile need NOT be over-sensitive about what goes on in the US congress.

    • Unfortunately there is a great deal of misplaced sensitivity and deference to Western (read white skin) opinion amongst Indians. This is not only across the political spectrum but also in the media, arts, academia, business etc. The US and it’s Western allies are hardly models of good behaviour, tolerance or righteousness. All these Congressional hearings are a dime a dozen and are best ignored as an extension of the US’s own domestic political compulsions.

  7. Columnist Seema Sirohi has been flagging this issue. The mood on Capitol Hill has been darkening steadily. These are the issues our diplomats – when they are not busy organising diaspora events – should be advising the government on. The strongest bond between India and the United States – beyond shared concerns over China – is shared democratic values. Respect for minorities, tolerance, pluralism. That Trump does not share them is incidental 2. We have created a soothing echo chamber. According to Arnab Goswami, India is setting the global agenda. This two hour plus hearing is a reminder that we have drifted away from where the world expected us to be.

    • Doubt very much the US is the world, although Americans label their sporting events (that only Americans participate in) as World championships.

      • American establishment is adept at patronising. Obama deserved Nobel only if he had done away with gun laws. Now Americans have met a match in China, however the Chinese know that Americans are सौ चूहे खा कर बिल्ली हज को चली। So there attitude is बोलते चलो but we will do it at our own pace. And American establishment can be seen huffing and puffing…literally.

    • We do not share anything with Americans, and minority drama, tolerance etc we don’t to learn from a country that creates problem everywhere.

    • We don’t owe anything to Americans, and we don’t need to listen to Americans on minority, tolerance etc. Their record is dubious on that.

    • No country can afford to have millions of illegal immigrants specially where they are changing demographic composition.

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