India slams UN Rights chief
Taking strong reservations against United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein's criticism on alleged human rights violations in India, the Indian authorities have accused him of ignorance. Reacting to Hussein's remarks about the prevailing Rohingya crisis, the murder of journalists and cow vigilantism, India's envoy to the UN Rajeev Chander said it was surprising that individual incidents were being blown out of proportion to suggest a broader societal situation. Pointing out Hussein's failure in addressing the core issue of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, he said: "India is proud of its independent judiciary, free press, vibrant civil society and unanimous respect for rule of law and human rights. Before talking about such issues, one must keep a record of what our Prime Minister had said about those matters. He had himself publicly condemned violence in the name of cow protection. Assessments of human rights in any country should not be a substance of political opportuneness." Chander further said it was sad to form an opinion about a country that is a testimony of 'one the most vibrant democracies' in the history of human civilisation – for its comprehensiveness and sustenance. "India does not condone any actions in violation of law and imputations to the contrary are not justified. India believes that achieving human rights goals calls for objective consideration, balanced judgements and verification of facts," Chander said, adding, "Our Government's motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' is a true reflection of our commitment to achieving inclusive development in the spirit of not isolating even the last citizen." Incidentally, in oddly frank remarks made while addressing the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Hussein said, rights defenders working for India's most vulnerable groups were being harassed or denied protection by the State instead of being seen as allies in building a more inclusive society. He also criticised India and Pakistan for not cooperating with his office to assess the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and expressed his concern about the rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India. However, it was not the first instance that Hussein has used harsh words against India. In 2016, when India did not permit him to visit Jammu and Kashmir, he took Pakistan's side and advocated for an independent, impartial and international mission to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides.