Senator asks Obama to review India ties over rights record

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Washington, Feb 20: A Republican Senator has called on the Obama administration to re-evaluate US' growing diplomatic ties with India, alleging that the country continues to "suppress" religious liberty and human rights.

"The United States should consider its role and relations with India with caution," James Lankford, the junior Republican Senator from Oklahoma, said in a letter to President Barack Obama.

Senator asks Obama to review India ties

In the letter, the Senator called on the US President to re-evaluate America's growing diplomatic ties with Cuba and India, alleging that the two countries continue to have a poor human rights and religious liberty record.

"While India continues to suppress religious liberty and human rights, I encourage the Administration to utilise the strength of our current relationship with India to support the religious liberty and human rights of Indian citizens of all faiths," the Senator said in his letter dated February 18. Every US state has two senators.

A junior senator is the one who has been in the Senate for a less period of time as compared to the other senator. A former student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Lankford entered the Senate in January 2015 after being in the House of Representatives for two terms from 2011 to 2015.

Read More: US-Cuba: Mixed reactions on Obama's visit in March

Observing that India has a religiously diverse society and a secular government, the Senator alleged there were significant violations of human rights and freedom of religion in the country.

In his long letter, the Oklahoma Senator alleged that Christians and Muslims are often the target of religious harassment and violence. "Christians have reported violence, arson, destruction of property, and a reluctance of local police to protect them or investigate the incidents," he said.

"According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, in November and December of 2014, there were more than 38 incidents of harassment or violence against Christians. Additionally, there have been violent attacks on Catholic churches and communities," he said.

PTI 

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