Tom Lantos commission to hold hearing on human rights violations in India during Modi trip

Washington : Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the dinner hosted by the President of United States of America (USA), Barack Obama, at the White House, in Washington D.C. PTI Photo

NEW YORK (TIP): Sant Gupta, an alum of IIT Delhi, based now in Virginia, and who has worked for the cause of #Hinduism and inter-faith dialogue for many years in the US, has lambasted a hearing organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) that intends to examine the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedoms, and opportunities for advancement, at Capitol Hill, on June 7th, to coincide with the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sant Gupta lambasts hearing on Capitol Hill, scheduled on June 7th.

The hearing, organized by the Tom Lantos commission, named after the late congressman, is titled ‘Challenges & Opportunities: The Advancement of Human Rights in India’. The panel for the hearing has the following individuals listed: Jeff King, President, International Christian Concern; John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch; Musaddique Thange, Communications Director, Indian American Muslim Council; and T. Kumar, Asia Advocacy Director, Amnesty International.

In an e-mail detailing the hearing, the commission wrote that “a wide variety of serious human rights concerns persist” in India.

“Despite Constitutional provisions abolishing the legal existence of “untouchable” or Dalit castes and tribes, the caste system remains deeply ingrained within Indian society, leading to ongoing discrimination. Dalit communities, which make up a quarter of India’s population, are also disproportionately at risk of suffering from another major human rights concern in India, that of human trafficking. Tens of thousands of individuals, including children, are believed to be trafficking annually within India for the purposes of commercialized sexual exploitation or forced labor,” the e-mail said.

It added: “Religious minorities also face growing challenges. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s most recent report, “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India. Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups.

“Meanwhile, a large number of international non-governmental organizations supporting a range of causes, including human rights, have been added to government watch lists or had funding cut off by Indian officials. These actions, coupled with perceived crackdowns on groups or individuals critical of the Indian government, have many concerned that the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association are being increasingly curtailed.”

The hearing, the e-mail said, will “examine these and other issues, while seeking to provide concrete recommendations for how U.S. policy makers can most effectively encourage the protection of human rights given the strategic importance and continued growth of the U.S. – India bilateral relationship.”

Gupta, who emigrated to the US over four decades ago, and works as a Business Development Executive for the federal government, has expressed his displeasure with the hearing. Gupta has over the years served on the executive Board of the World Hindu Council of America, and supports organizations like Life in Yoga Institute, Hindu American Foundation and Indian American Forum for Political Education.

In an e-mail sent to the commission, in response to the hearing, a copy of which is with The American Bazaar, Gupta, said: “…TLHRC want to embarrass the PM Modi with this sham display of its biased, distorted and distasteful character. You quote USCIRF who in turn will quote you in their hearings and reports. This a classical circular argument to reinforce already established verdict. Neither of these entities have any interest to be fair, seek the truth or being helpful to those whom you pretend to assist.”

Gupta came down hard upon not just the commission, but the entire Congress, too.

“No wonder the US Congress has such a low approval rating among American public. Hope, you will stop wasting American tax $$ and do something good for the people here. Your actions amount to interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and jeopardizing good India-US relationship which will benefit both countries.”

He also noted that “IAMC (Indian American Muslim Council) is a well-known Hindu and India hater. To give them stage is a poor reflection on TLHRC about their inability or lack of desire to hear multiple points of view to really convey the truth. And the Christian representative will probably cry about the untold (and in many cases unsubstantiated) atrocities committed by Hindus especially since Modi came to power. Somehow, there is little expectation of fairness from the representative of Amnesty International when it comes to conveying concerns of Hindus. So, the deck is stacked up against Modi, Hindus and India. And you expect no one to see through it!!”

Gupta also wrote: “It appears that one of the primary goals of TLHRC is to build up atrocity literature against Hindus and India. Sooner it repurposes its mission better it would be for the genuine Human Rights.”

He then asked some questions of the organizers: “Would you hold hearings on:

“1. Deceptive and immoral practices by various Christian denominations in India for conversion. They pray on human vulnerability and take undue advantage of their plight while denigrating their way of life, religion and civilization. Any attempts to expose or stop such illegal practices is promptly labeled by USCIRF and your commission as Hindu Nationalists, Hindu Fundamentals and many other derogatory terms.

“2. The hatred and disharmony spread by Muslims organizations, Madrassas or Mosques in India and elsewhere in the world. Please do not immediately label me as Islamophobic. Radical Islam is causing harm to the Western countries.”

Gupta ended his e-mail with these strong words: “How can a body like TLHRC be so blatantly political and a constructive force for change? You have no business to be in such business.”

Modi is scheduled to be in Washington, DC, on June 8-9, at the invitation of President Barack Obama.


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