WASHINGTON DC: Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, US Department of State Sam Brownback expressed his concerns over freedom of Indian media after his weekly briefing on international religious freedom forum at US Senate attended by a delegation of journalists hailing from India and Pakistan.
The interaction, facilitated by the President of US-Pak Foundation Shahab Qarni, took place in line with the recent outbreak of violence against Muslims in Delhi and Occupied Kashmir.
The group of journalists conveyed that Hindu journalists in India are being threatened by extremist Hindutva parties, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
These journalists said that they are being forced not to report the violence and persecution against Muslims, lamenting that these extremist outfits are threatening them and their families.
Demanding ensured protection from the US department for safe conditions for reporting, the journalists also shared on how some newsmen who report bitter realities have already lost their jobs, and others are facing similar fate.
Brownback, the former US senator, appointed by the Trump administration, was taken aback and said that he was not aware of such circumstances in one of the world’s largest democratic state – India.
On asking for credentials and valid evidence so that the ambassador can report them to the US State Department, the journalists replied that they can share all relevant details only if their identities are not revealed and correspondence is made through safe email communication.
In another meeting with Lead Coordinator for International Forum on Religious Freedom Nicole Ambrose at the Trump Presidential Convention, the issue of persecution on the basis of religion came under discussion.
Bothered over the particular disregard of minorities in India, Ambrose said that the US is trying its level best to ensure religious freedom across the globe.
While quoting Pew Research Centre, Ambrose further revealed that the governments is overseeing the religious persecution of minorities – including Rohingya and Kashmiri Muslims.
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“It is an undisputed international standard that the religious persecution of minorities and violation of freedom of expression is utterly unacceptable."
Lauding Brownback’s role in advocating the idea of arranging round table conferences in all the countries over the issues pertaining to minorities and freedom of speech, the leading coordinator said that the US is keeping a close eye on the status of minorities all over the world.
“President Trump’s speech in the UN endorses the unwavering stance of the US over the rights of minorities,” she said, adding that the governments should take the responsibility of safeguarding the rights of minorities.
Later in the day, the delegation also met the chairman of the International Society of Peace and Justice in India, Dr Rehan Khan, who also represents the Muslims in India who endorsed the claims of journalists from India.
Highlighting that even judges who criticise the ruling BJP are transferred overnight, Khan said that the situation of Muslims – both in India and Occupied Kashmir – is deplorable as they are not only being targeted but the media is also ignoring their plight amid threats from Hindutva extremists.
Those Hindu journalists who are working for the true secular Image of India must be given protection by the US department of state so that the truth can be highlighted publicly, he added.
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