Washington [US]: Noting that human rights issue was not discussed during his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday made a veiled reference to his remarks at a joint presser and said India was entitled “to have views about their (US) views and the interests and the lobbies and the vote banks which drives that”.
Answering a query about Blinken’s remarks at the joint press conference after the 2+2 dialogue on Monday, Jaishankar said India also takes a view on other people’s human rights situation, including that of the United States and raises matters concerning the Indian community.
Jaishankar, who addressed a press conference here, also said that the human rights issue has come up in the past.
“No, we did not discuss human rights during this meeting. This meeting was primarily focussed on political and military affairs.”
“It (human rights) is a subject which has come up in the past. It came up when Secretary Blinken came to India, and I think if you recall the press briefings after that, I was very open about the fact that we had discussed it and said what I had to say,” Jaishankar said.
“People are entitled to have views about us, but we are also equally entitled to have views about their views and the interests and the lobbies and the vote banks which drive that,” he added.
He said India takes up human rights issues with the US, especially if they pertain to the Indian community.
“We also take views on other people’s human rights situation, including that of the United States, so we take up human rights issues when they arise in this country (the US), especially when it pertains to our community,” Jaishankar said.
Two Sikh men were attacked in the New York borough of Queens on Tuesday, less than two weeks after another Sikh man was assaulted in the same neighbourhood, authorities said.
Sikhs make up the world’s fifth-largest religious community. The diaspora spans across the globe, and more than 500,000 Sikhs are estimated to be living in the US.
Jaishankar was addressing a press briefing on his interactions with Blinken and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, was also present at the press conference.
Blinken had said at the joint press conference after the 2+2 dialogue on Monday that India and the US share a commitment to democratic values, such as protecting human rights.
“We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values and to that end, we are monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials,” he had said.
Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took part in the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington. (ANI)