//India's handling of conflicts criticised in UK

India's handling of conflicts criticised in UK

Rashmee Roshan Lall

LONDON: Tamil Nadu's success in halting ethnic conflicts has not been replicated by the Indian government in other parts of the country, a Britain-based human rights group has said.

The Minority Rights Group, which is headquartered in London, criticised India for failing to replicate its Tamil success in Punjab, Kashmir and Nagaland.

Blaming the Indian government for constant interference in the politics of these regions and for failing to empower minority communities and protect their rights, the group said " India is the world's largest democracy and it is gaining prominence as a global economic power but their handling of minority rights in these three conflict situations is appalling".

Zoe Gray, the organisation's Conflict Prevention Officer said that even though minority issues are on the agenda and "India has signed up to international treaties and guarantees minority rights in law", there was a significant "shortfall in practice."

The organization, which describes itself as "a non governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide", offered a comparative analysis of India's major ethnic conflicts. It said that India would have done well to export and replicate best practice in Tamil Nadu, where separatism was quelled "by integrating minorities through ethnic power-sharing".

Gray said that even though "Tamil Nadu is not a perfect example of minority protection, the case underlines how minority autonomy and empowerment can turn a separatist movement into a force for democracy".

But she lamented India's inability to use Tamil Nadu as a template for elsewhere in the country.

The MRG report, titled 'Minority Rights and Conflict Prevention: Case Study of Conflicts in Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Nagaland' was launched in London on Thursday. Maya Chadda, the author of the report, is the director of the South Asia program at the William Paterson University of New Jersey.