Washington, Mar 09: Acknowledging India`s commitment to democracy and respect for human rights, the US has, nevertheless, said that "numerous serious problems" remained there, including "excessive use of force" in combating militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency in north-eastern states.
In its annual `progress report` on human rights, the State Department said yesterday that "India is a longstanding multiparty, federal, parliamentary democracy with a bicameral Parliament….The government generally respected the rights of its citizens; however, numerous serious problems remained".
"Government officials used special anti-terrorism legislation to justify the excessive use of force while combating active insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir and several Northeastern states," it charged.
However, it admitted that individual cases were investigated by authorities and perpetrators punished by the courts.
The report also condemned terrorist and militant groups, including the Naxalites, for attacks on civilians and government officials among others.
It also highlighted corruption in both police and the administration, saying that it was "endemic in the government and police forces, and the government made little attempt to combat the problem, except for a few instances highlighted by the media."
The report alleged that government forces "continued arbitrary and unlawful deprivation of life of those in custody. Police and prison officers also committed extrajudicial killings of suspected insurgents and suspected criminals by the use of staged encounter killings."
It also pulled up India for its "lax" enforcement of laws on human rights and claimed that "social acceptance of caste-based discrimination validated human rights violations against persons belonging to lower castes."
The State Department, which also spoke about Gujarat, quoted from a human rights watch report alleging that "… Extremists threatened and intimidated victims, witnesses and human rights activists attempting to prosecute those who committed crimes during the 2002 Gujarat riots."
"Attacks on religious minorities occurred in several states which brought into question the government`s ability to prevent sectarian and religious violence or prosecute those responsible for it," it alleged while also noting that there were no reports of anti-semitic acts during the year against the country`s small Jewish population.