NEW YORK: US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has urged Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is scheduled to visit India on Friday to raise the concerns over deteriorating human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) with Modi government.
In a letter to Defence Secretary, committee’s chairman Senator Robert Mendez asked him to also raise the “deteriorating” situation of democracy and the rising anti-Muslim sentiments in India.
The senator wrote, “I too would like to see the US-India partnership grow, but we must acknowledge that the partnership is strong when based on shared democratic values and the Indian government has been trending away from those values.”
He stated, “I also expect that you will raise the administration’s opposition to India’s reportedly planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system, which 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).”
“I urge officials to make clear that respect for democratic values is necessary for strong, sustainable US-India relations,” he added.
He also wrote about the Indian government’s ongoing crackdown on protesting farmers, intimidation of journalists and related government actions like the Citizenship Amendments Act, the suppression of political dialogue and arrest of political opponents following the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.
Lloyd Austin, during his three-day stay in India, is slated to meet his counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval.