India rejects UN criticism, says Hindus, Muslims ‘best friends’

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned India Wednesday that its “divisive policies” could undermine economic growth, saying that narrow political agendas were marginalizing vulnerable people in an already unequal society.

“We are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities – in particular Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalized groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis,” Bachelet said in her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Just before Bachelet’s address, Amnesty International’s India chapter said Tuesday that it had recorded a “disturbing” number of hate crimes against marginalized groups in 2018. There is “a culture of impunity for hate crimes” in India according to Aakar Patel, the executive directive of Amnesty India.

“Legal reforms that enable recording of hate crimes and strengthen accountability must be a priority for any government that comes to power following the upcoming general elections,” he said as India does not recognize hate crimes as a specific offense.

“Everything cannot be measured in terms of economic growth. India’s moral stature is stunted by these organized attacks on minorities which is justified in the name of protecting cows or in the name of protecting Hindu women,” said Kavita Krishnan, a leftist-feminist activist from India in a reply to Bachelet’s comments adding that “the U.N. human rights chief should be concerned about this irrespective whether it affects economic growth or not.”

Shahnawaz Hussain, spokesperson for India’s ruling far-right Hindu nationalist BJP said, “I reject the U.N. human rights chief’s report. These are baseless allegations to tarnish the image of India. India is the best country for Muslims in the world, and Hindus are their best friends.”

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