Human Rights Issues Cast Shadow Over Australian PM’s Visit to India

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who is set to hold talks with Modi, is travelling alongside 25 Australian business leaders. Albanese is eager to deepen ties with a country projected to have the world’s biggest population by the end of this year

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s visit to India comes at a time when allegations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s complicity in the 2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom has again come to the fore.

Modi was the chief minister of the state hugging the country’s western coastline when the riots broke out wherein 1,044 people, a majority of them Muslims, lost their lives.

A two-part BBC documentary aired recently clearly blames Modi for the riots. The documentary raised a hue and cry in India with the government berating the BBC and clamping down on Twitter and other social media tools.

“The bias, lack of objectivity and continuing colonial mindset are blatantly visible,” a government spokesperson said on the BBC documentary.

But left-wing students arranged the screening of the documentary in several university campuses across the country drawing the wrath of the respective administrations.

Soon after, BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai were raided by authorities, as part of what they insisted was a tax investigation. Documents and phones belonging to journalists were reportedly searched.

Prime Minister Albanese, who is set to hold talks with Modi, is travelling alongside 25 Australian business leaders. Albanese is eager to deepen ties with a country projected to have the world’s biggest population by the end of this year, reports in the Australian media said on Wednesday. 

While trade will be a key focus for Albanese, claims of human rights abuses, particularly in relation to India’s Muslim population, loom large.

Modi, now India’s fourth-longest serving prime minister, has always vehemently contested allegations of allowing the riots to continue unabated and was exonerated by the highest court.

But despite the ruling, human rights groups and political experts argue Hindu nationalism has become more entrenched since his government took power in 2014.

In August last year, Modi government signed off on the early release of 11 men sentenced to life in prison for gangraping Bilkis Bano and murdering her family members during the riots.

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