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Exposing Inaccuracies: A Sharp Critique of the US State Department's Human Rights Report

Exposing Inaccuracies: A Sharp Critique of the US State Department’s Human Rights Report

Rohan Giri

US State Department’s annual human rights report for 2023 on Bharat (India)[1] appears to have lost credibility in its assessment of human rights incidents. It’s latest edition brings forth numerous significant issues that necessitate a response. Unfortunately, the report’s depiction of Bharat’s human rights landscape suffers from a noticeable agenda, undermining its own integrity as an self appointed, global evaluative agency.

The report draws on sources that are both unreliable and ambiguous, including media reports and statements from NGOs, which fail to comprehensively represent the human rights situation in Bharat. Such sources lack the depth required to understand the nuances and recognise progress in these areas. Moreover, numerous instances of factually incorrect or misleading data undermine the report’s credibility and distract from addressing legitimate human rights issues that demand serious consideration. Furthermore, the report’s methodology of aggregating data over extended periods, sometimes spanning more than five years, distorts the current state of affairs. It is perplexing why the report does not focus on the human rights conditions of a specific year, rather than a cumulative period. This approach to data aggregation skews perceptions and hinders a true understanding of the present conditions and the improvements made. These significant flaws necessitate a rigorous review and response to ensure that discussions about human rights in Bharat are based on accurate, timely, and contextual information. This rebuttal aims to correct these misconceptions, provide relevant data, and offer a nuanced perspective that accurately reflects both the ongoing challenges and the significant advancements of Bharat.

While the report contains several misrepresentations. However, for the purpose of this rebuttal, we are highlighting a select few to assist the US state department in re-reflecting on its sources, information, and overall presentation.

Section on Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings reported, “On July 31, media reports stated security official Chetan Singh killed his senior officer and three men who identified as Muslims on a train near Mumbai, targeting them based on their appearance.” The family members of the three men called the incident “a hate crime” and “an act of terror” based on the hate speech Singh used against the three men before he shot them. Police arrested Singh on the same day.” Report frames the incident in a way that suggests two Muslims, who unexpectedly died in this accident, were targeted because of their faith. However, conversations with those close to the situation narrate a different story. Ghanshyam Acharya, who was on duty with Chetan, provided further context in his statement to the Railway Police, recounted that shortly after their duty started, he observed ASI Meena mention that Chetan was running a fever and still had two hours of duty ahead.[2] However, the manner in which the US Human Rights Report represents the incident raises serious concerns about the accuracy of its sources and the integrity of its presentation. The same section asserts that the deaths in regions like Jammu and Kashmir and those affected by Maoist terrorism are fault of Indian security forces. Nevertheless, it is a fact that Pakistan backed terrorists and Naxal Maoist terrorists pose the most substantial threat to both the development, peace and security of the region. It is also a fact that the Indian Security forces have carried out several operations against terrorists, often suffering heavy casualties in their pursuit of protecting their motherland and its habitants. To put things into perspective, website of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was updated on March 24, 2023, with the headline “India: UN expert demands immediate end to crackdown on Kashmiri human rights defenders,”[3] in which UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor talks about those who illegally concealed their original identity, supported terrorist activities, and furthered their cause. Mary Lawlor should understand that her job is to defend rights, not crimes. Lawlor previously directed the Irish chapter of Amnesty International from 1988 to 2000.[4] In several instances , Lawlor has violated the UN code of conduct by agenda driven narrative building, especially about India, a sovereign and respectable UN member state.  

Furthermore, the U.S. State Human Rights Report details that ‘on October 31, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the bail plea of student and human rights activist Umar Khalid on November 22, which was then adjourned to January 2024. Khalid has been repeatedly denied bail since his 2020 arrest under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).’ Despite international and local activists demanding Khalid’s release, citing his arbitrary detention without trial since 2020, the report fails to mention significant details. For instance, Khalid’s counsel requested seven of the fourteen adjournments during his Supreme Court hearings. Furthermore, the public prosecutor pointed out during the bail hearings that Khalid often creates narratives in the media and online. It is also noteworthy that Khalid, described in the report as a ‘student and human rights activist,’ is the son of Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas, a former member of the banned terrorist group Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Khalid is accused of being a primary conspirator in the 2020 anti-Hindu Delhi riots, which resulted in significant legal charges against him. The U.S. State Department’s report, perhaps naively, seems to undermine the judiciary of a sovereign state and a key U.S. partner. Such an approach is safely viewed as a misuse of state department resources to further specific agendas, particularly concerning India.

The Human Rights Report inaccurately used the killing of Canadian Terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar to propagate the notion that the Indian government is engaged in global repression. It notes, ‘On September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government was investigating allegations linking Indian government agents to the killing of Sikh Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been designated as a terrorist by India and advocated for the creation of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan. The Indian government has denied any involvement. However, this portrayal overlooks significant details. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of Indian agency involvement were made without presenting credible evidence. Consequently, instead of blaming India, the U.S. State Department should question the Canadian government’s criteria for granting citizenship to an individual designated as a terrorist. This situation raises concerns about Canada potentially serving as a safe haven for terrorists, but for the State department, the agenda seems to be something else.

The report takes a skeptical view and attempts to show that Indian government conspired and blocked the social media accounts of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) to stop their efforts to advance human rights and religious freedom. The aforementioned organizations conduct their activities in the United States. Instead of taking their concern into consideration, it should be prevalent to take action against these outfits, as IAMC has direct linkages with the banned organization SIMI, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) through its founder, Shaik Ubaid. The reality of IAMC is that it’s a JeI-backed lobbyist group under the veil of human rights advocacy. US should be concerned because this terrorist lobbying group infiltrated US state department entity USCIRF as well.[5] Another group, Hindus for Human Rights, was actively spreading the misleading narrative of Hindu vs. Hindutva, and the same group endorsed the Dismantle Global Hindutva conference. Hindus for Human Rights was formed by the Islamic Jihadi Indian American Muslim Council and Organization for Minorities in India (OFMI).[6] In light of the irresponsible identification of issues within the US State Department’s 2023 human rights report on India, which is characterised by reliance on ambiguous sources, factual inaccuracies, and misleading representations, this underscores the need for a more introspective approach. Cases mentioned, including the misrepresentation of incidents, are just a few examples of the report’s biased and irresponsible approach. Human Rights Report 2023 contains numerous rebuttable instances, indicating a pattern of deficiencies in its evaluation process.

Instead of evaluating other countries’ human rights practices, it is imperative that the United States focus more critically on its own. In light of more than 13 killings/deaths of Indian-American students since the beginning of 2024, calls for a rigorous internal assessment of how the US documents and addresses human rights issues, ensuring that the focus remains on preserving and enhancing its own standards of human rights, justice, and accountability. This approach will not only strengthen domestic human rights practices but also lend greater credibility to the US when addressing human rights concerns globally.


[1] 528267_INDIA-2023-HUMAN-RIGHTS-REPORT.pdf (






(Author Rohan Giri is a journalism graduate from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) New Delhi, and a Content Manager at CIHS.)

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