US report attacks India for rights abuses in J&K
26 February 2001
The Hindustan Times
Washington DC: THE US Human Rights Report has attacked India for its "excessive use of force" to combat insurgencies in Jammu & Kashmir and elsewhere. It has also criticised the Government's "inadequate response" to continuing attacks on Christians "by some Hindu extremist groups". The India section of the worldwide report for 2000, released today, does not gloss over as such the reign of terror unleashed by Pak-backed militants in Kashmir. But, on balance, it appears to voice greater concern over the "heavy-handed" counter-offensive by security forces. Broadly in line with reports in the past couple of years, the volume for 2000 details "human rights abuses" under various heads: from extra-judicial killings to custodial deaths and torture; from 'societal violence" against Christians and Muslims to "discrimination" against women and the disabled. The report, compiled by the State Department, says the human rights abuses are "acute" in J&K. "Judicial tolerance of Government's heavy-handed counter-insurgency tactics, the refusal of security forces to obey court orders and terrorist threats disrupted the judicial system," it asserts. The overview to the 106-page India section does not mention the horrific massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chattisinghpura last March. The massacre is relegated to the inside pages. The overview, however, acknowledges that "Pakistan-backed militants opposed to the cease-fire attacked and killed more than 100 civilians, many of them Hindu pilgrims, at several locations". While dealing with the "tension" between Muslims and Hindus, and "to an increasing extent between Hindus and Christians", the report accuses the BJP-led NDA Government of responding inadequately to the "continuing attacks on Christians". The Government largely made statements criticising the violence "with few efforts" to hold the perpetrators to account. "Throughout the year, the Government generally described the violence and attacks as a series of isolated local phenomena." The report pointedly refers to RSS chief K S Sudarshan's remarks at the Agra rally in October calling for "banning foreign churches and creating a national Christian church based on the Chinese model".