India on Tuesday strongly rejected the criticism by the UN human rights chief over its handling of Rohingya Muslim refugees, human rights situations in Jammu and Kashmir and observation relating to the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, saying it was “perplexed” at the remarks.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, in his comments at the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, had criticised India on the issue of deportation of Rohingyas as well as on religious intolerance and threat to rights activists.
In a strong reaction, India said it was surprising that individual incidents are being “extrapolated” to suggest a broader societal situation.
“We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the High Commissioner in his oral update. There appears to be an inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights that are guaranteed and practised daily in a vibrant democracy that has been built under challenging conditions,” Ambassador Rajiv K Chander said.
Chander, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Geneva, made the statement in response to Hussein’s comments.
Rejecting the observations by Hussein, Chander said, “Tendentious judgements made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society.”
Like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges, he said, adding that enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion.
Some 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, and 16,000 of them have received refugee documentation, the UN estimates.
India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, on September 5 had said Rohingyas were illegal immigrants and stand to be deported.
“It is also surprising that individual incidents are being extrapolated to suggest a broader societal situation. India is proud of its independent judiciary, freedom of the press, vibrant civil society and respect for rule of law and human rights,” Chander said.
He said a more informed view would have not only recognised this aspect but also noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself publicly condemned violence in the name of cow protection.
“India does not condone any actions in violation of law and imputations to the contrary are not justified,” he said.
On observation relating to the issue of human rights situations in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “It is a matter of regret that the central role of terrorism is once again being overlooked.”
The Indian envoy said assessments of human rights should not be a matter of political convenience.
“India believes that achieving human rights goals calls for objective consideration, balanced judgements and verification of facts.
“Our Government?s motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ that is All Together and Development for All, is a true reflection of our commitment to achieving inclusive development in the spirit of leaving none of our citizens behind,” Chander added.