U.S. remark comparing PM Modi with Saudi PM Mohammed bin Salman was unnecessary, says India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 20, 2019. | Photo credit: the Hindu

The government criticized the US State Department’s comparison of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s immunity since 2014 with the legal immunity now granted to Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. The government said on Thursday that the US comments were not “relevant, necessary or contextual”. .

The State Department also targeted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for issuing a “Country Update” accusing the government of “participating in or tolerating systematic, ongoing and flagrant violations of religious law.” freedom”.

Speaking of a report that Mr Modi had hoped to travel to the US for a state visit in December this year, the MEA spokesman said the government had made no such proposal. He also said Mr Modi and US President Joe Biden had met “a number of times” at the recent G20 summit in Bali, including a “brief bilateral meeting” and a trilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“We have seen the biased and inaccurate observations about India by the USCIRF. Their tendency to consistently misrepresent facts shows a lack of understanding of India, its constitutional framework, plurality and robust democratic system,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, when asked about the update from the congressional body which has already issued an annual report. and other reports. documents earlier this year raising concerns about human rights and religious freedom in India.

The “Country Update,” released on Nov. 22, included recent incidents and government actions that it called a “crackdown on civil society and dissent,” pointing to the imprisonment and harassment of “journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, academics, political leaders , religious minorities and others critical of its policies.” It also said the government’s actions “have eroded the secular principles of India’s Constitution and India’s pluralistic democracy by promoting and implementing Hindutva ideology through government policies “, and advised the US State Department, which periodically releases a list of countries under surveillance for religious freedom issues, to designate India as a Country of Special Concern (CPC).

The MEA spokesman said the government had not protested the USCIRF report to the US embassy or government, as the USCIRF is a US congressional body, not a government body. In 2005, Mr Modi, then Prime Minister of Gujarat, was banned from the US under the US International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 following a recommendation from the USCIRF that criticized his role in the riots in gujarat in 2002.

Mr. Bagchi also expressed surprise at a recent comment made by US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel on November 18 on the issue of the US visa ban. Mr Patel, in response to a number of questions from the US press about the Biden administration’s decision to grant Saudi Prince Mohammed immunity in the Jamal Khashoggi murder case, given his new role as head of the Saudi government, had said that the The US has granted similar immunity to Mr Modi and a number of other leaders such as former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, former Congolese President Laurent Kabila and former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “I don’t understand how [the State Department’s] commentary on PM Modi was either necessary, relevant or contextual. Our two countries have a very special relationship that continues to grow stronger, and we look forward to deepening it,” he said.

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