US Senate Committee asks Defence Secy to raise India’s state of democracy
US Senate Committee has urged Defence Secy Austin to raise India’s state of democracy during visit
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is all set to arrive in India on Friday. Ahead of the visit, Senator Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has written a letter to the Defence Secretary, urging him to raise concerns about the current state of democracy and human rights in India with the country’s officials. In the letter, he has maintained that the Indian government has been “trending away” from democratic values.
“We must acknowledge that the partnership is strongest when based on shared democratic values and the Indian government has been trending away from those values,” he noted.
He also raised the Indian government’s moves to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, among other human rights concerns.
“The Indian government’s ongoing crackdown on farmers peacefully protesting new farming laws and corresponding intimidation of journalists and government critics only underscores the deteriorating situation of democracy in India,” Senator Menendez added.
The US Senator also raised India’s plans to purchase S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia. He underlined that if India purchases the air defence missile systems from Russia, it will be a sanctionable transaction and India’s ability to work with the US to develop and procure sensitive military technology will also reduce. Senator Menendez urged the Defence Secretary to voice these challenges in his discussions with the Indian officials.
The US Defence Secretary is in India for a three-day visit from March 19-21. During the visit, Lloyd Austin will be holding formal talks with his Indian counterpart defence minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, and foreign affairs minister S Jaishankar. Noting that this is his first international trip to Asia after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, it will mark the new US administration’s strategic relations with the Indo-Pacific region.
“Secretary Austin’s visit to India as part of his first overseas travel emphasizes the strength of the India-US strategic partnership,” the Indian Government said in a press statement.
Speaking to ANI, the Indian ambassador to the United States, TS Sandhu, asserted that this trip is a reflection of the importance which the US accords to India and the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
As per reports, Lloyd Austin will be holding discussions with Rajnath Singh with the aim of boosting the US-India Major Defense Partnership and advancing cooperation between the two countries to develop a free, prosperous, and open Indo-Pacific and Western Indian Ocean Region.