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Influential US senate committee asks defence chief to lift human rights violations with India

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Chairman of the Senate Overseas Relations Committee Robert Menendez. Picture: CNN 
  • A US senator desires Austin Lloyd to lift Washington’s opposition to India’s reportedly deliberate buy of Russian S-400 missile defence system. 
  • Robert Menendez warns that sale places India prone to sanctions beneath Part 231 of Countering America’s Adversaries By way of Sanctions Act.
  • US senator says US can’t companion with India by compromising on democratic values.

WASHINGTON: A top-ranking US senator has expressed issues over the scuffling of human rights and democratic values in India, warning that New Delhi might face sanctions, reported The Information.

In a letter to US Defence Secretary Austin Lloyd, who’s due in New Delhi to satisfy along with his counterpart, Senate Overseas Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez urged the US official to lift democracy and human rights issues with the Indian authorities.

“We must acknowledge that the partnership is strongest when based on shared democratic values and the Indian government has been trending away from those values,” the chairman of the committee wrote.

Menendez mentioned he expects Lloyd to lift Washington’s opposition to India’s reportedly deliberate buy of the Russian S-400 missile defence system. He added that the sale of the arms threatens future US-India defence cooperation and “puts India at risk of sanctions under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).”

Learn extra: India’s standing downgraded from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ nation in US report

“India’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system is also a matter of concern,” the letter additional mentioned, “I recognise that India is not a US treaty ally and has historical ties with the Soviet and Russian militaries.

However, if India chooses to go forward with its purchase of the S-400, that act will constitute a significant, and, therefore, sanctionable, transaction with the Russian defence sector under Section 231 of CAATSA.”

The letter warned that the motion may also restrict India’s means to work with the US on the event and procurement of delicate army know-how.

The letter additionally identified the Indian authorities’s ongoing crackdown on farmers peacefully protesting new farming legal guidelines and corresponding intimidation of journalists and authorities critics that solely underscores the deteriorating state of affairs of democracy in India.

Learn extra: US urges India to respect freedom of expression in Kashmir, carry web blockade

“Moreover, in recent years, rising anti-Muslim sentiments and related government actions like the Citizenship Amendment Act, the suppression of political dialogue and arrest of political opponents following the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and the use of sedition laws to persecute political opponents have resulted in the US human rights group Freedom House stripping India of its ‘Free’ status in its yearly global survey,” the letter mentioned.

The senator mentioned that the Interim Nationwide Safety Strategic Steerage of the US states that “democracy is essential to meeting the challenges of our time.”

The US lawmaker instructed the defence secretary that Washington ought to companion with New Delhi to sort out the challenges coming from China and local weather change however warned that the nation can’t do it by letting the democratic values fall.

The senator requested Llyod to lift the significance of democracy and human rights in his conferences with Indian officers to clarify that respect for democratic values is important for robust, sustainable US-India relations.

Learn extra: US says ‘productive’ relationship with India or Pakistan doesn’t have an effect on ties with the opposite

“Getting the US-India partnership right is critical to addressing the 21st Century challenges and that includes urging the Indian government to uphold democratic values and human rights. In meetings with Indian counterparts during your upcoming visit, I strongly encourage you to make clear that in all areas, including security cooperation, the US-India partnership must rest on adherence to democratic values,” the letter concluded.

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