'Significant human rights issues', US reports targeted abuses against minorities, journalists in India

'Significant human rights issues', US reports targeted abuses against minorities, journalists in India

India witnessed significant human rights abuses in 2022, including arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings and violence targeting religious and ethnic minorities, a US report said.

The findings come nearly a year after Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. was monitoring what he described as a rise in human rights abuses in India by some government, police and prison officials, in a rare direct rebuke by Washington of the Asian nation's rights record.

U.S. criticism of India is rare due to close economic ties between the countries and India's increasing importance for Washington to counter China in the region.

Significant human rights issues in India have included credible reports of the government or its agents conducting extrajudicial killings; torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials; political prisoners or detainees; and unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, the U.S. report added.

Advocacy groups have raised concerns over what they see as a deteriorating human rights situation in India in recent years under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Human Rights Watch has said the Indian government's policies and actions target religious minorities while critics of Modi say his Hindu nationalist ruling party has fostered religious polarization since coming to power in 2014.

Critics point to a 2019 citizenship law that the United Nations human rights office described as "fundamentally discriminatory" by excluding religious minority migrants from neighboring countries; anti-conversion legislation that challenged the constitutionally protected right to freedom of belief; and revoking Kashmir's special status in 2019.

The government dismisses the accusations by saying its policies are aimed at the development of all communities.

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