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State sponsored terrorism, extremism lead to discrimination against minorities: India at UN

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United Nations, Sep 23: State-sponsored terrorism and violent extremism lead to disharmony in societies and increase in discrimination against minorities, India has said at the United Nations, calling on the UN bodies to ensure that terrorism is not justified on any ground.

UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti, during a high-level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, noted with concern that in an interconnected world, new forms of media, especially social media, have emerged as a platform for amplifying racial hatred and discriminatory ideas.

"In our times, we have seen how discrimination, racial or otherwise, is being used as an excuse to take up terrorism," he said on Wednesday. "State-sponsored terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism lead to disharmony in societies and increase in discrimination against minorities.

"We call on UN bodies to ensure that terrorism is not justified on any ground," Tirumurti said, without naming any country. Last week at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council, India mounted a blistering attack on Pakistan, saying it has been globally recognised as a country openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists including UN proscribed terrorists as a "matter of state policy".

India's Pawan Badhe, the first secretary in its permanent mission in Geneva, had said that Pakistan has failed to protect the rights of its minorities, including Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and Ahmadiyas. Incidents of violence against minority communities, including attacks on their places of worship, their cultural heritage, as well as their private property have taken place with impunity in Pakistan, he had added.

Addressing the General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, Tirumurti further said that the COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated these divisions and existing inequalities and reinforced racial discrimination. He also underscored the need to tackle 'infodemic' with "all our might to ensure social cohesion." "We firmly believe that the most definitive guarantee against racial prejudice, discrimination and xenophobia is nurturing of democracy and pluralism with the inculcation of values of tolerance, understanding and respect for diversity," Tirumurti said.

He said that Mahatma Gandhi, as millions of other people, suffered from racist exploitation. "Colonialism was rooted in the notion of racial superiority," the Indian envoy said, adding that to resist colonialism and racial discrimination, Gandhi forged the weapon of 'Satyagraha', "that is Truth and Non-Violence. With Truth and Non-Violence as weapon, he led India to freedom." India's fight against colonialism also fashioned the thinking of the country's Constitution makers, he said.

"Our nation rests on the principles of democracy, pluralism, equality and justice. The Indian Constitution enshrined safeguards against racism and racial discrimination," Tirumurti said, adding that these safeguards are further strengthened by India's comprehensive legal framework with independent and impartial judiciary, a pluralistic polity, a vibrant civil society and free media.

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), the General Assembly held the meeting with a theme 'Reparations, racial justice and equality for people of African descent'. The meeting aims to adopt a short and concise political declaration aimed at mobilising political will for the full and effective implementation of the DDPA and its follow-up processes.

Tirumurti said that racism is antithesis to the spirit of humanity and is a negation of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He noted that the DDPA provides a comprehensive framework and basis for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. "Today, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of this important instrument, we realise that we have much ground to cover," the Indian envoy added. PTI YAS CPS AKJ CPS

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