Ilhan Omar Draws Flak in India After She Compares PM Modi With Ex-Chilean Dictator Pinochet

© AP Photo / Morry GashIn this April 20, 2021, file photo Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in Brooklyn Center, Minn., during a news conference at the site of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer during a traffic stop.
In this April 20, 2021, file photo Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks in Brooklyn Center, Minn., during a news conference at the site of the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer during a traffic stop. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.04.2022
Ilhan Omar has been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s over his policy towards Indian Muslims, which make up around 20 percent of the country's population. In the past, she has raised concerns over a “surge in attacks” against Muslims for consumption of beef, as well as their targeting of the community in Jammu and Kashmir.
US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is copping criticism in India over her remarks at a Congressional hearing where she compared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former Chilean general-turned-President Augusto Pinochet.
“What worries me is that this time, we seem willing to let Modi be our new Pinochet,” stated Omar, while interrogating US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at a hearing on ‘Restoring American Leadership in the Indo-Pacific’.
The US-Somali lawmaker recalled that the US has committed “historical injustices” in supporting “brutal dictators” during the Cold War, which she said was justified by Western powers in the name of having a “common enemy”.
Pinochet was a staunch American ally and his policies are credited with putting Chile on the path of economic growth. However, his regime, which was established through a military junta which overthrew a democratically-elected government, was also accused of committing extensive human rights abuses, including extrajudicial 'disappearances', i.e. the killing and the torture of his political opponents and other dissenters. Around 30,000 Chileans are believed to have been tortured and killed while he was in power between 1974 and 1990.
“In the whole Indo-Pacific Strategy, there are only two references to human rights. One of those is a reference to how China is undermining them. Nobody doubts that. China’s human rights record is atrocious and that is well-known. But I ask, what about Modi in India?” Omar asked Sherman.
“What will it take? How much does the Modi administration have to criminalise the act of being Muslim in India for us to say something?” she went on.
She further urged for “outward” criticism of the Modi government’s actions “against the Muslim minority”.
A Hindu devotee lights lamps inside the historical Baba Sidh Goria temple on the first day of the Navratri, or nine nights festival, in Jammu, India, Saturday, April 2, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.04.2022
Civic Body Mayor in India Writes to Commissioner Seeking Closure of Meat Shops During Navaratri
The critical observations by Omar come against the backdrop of a row over the wearing of hijabs in the south Indian state of Karnataka, where Muslim students have been banned from putting on their Islamic headscarves in educational facilities. Another row erupted in Delhi this week after a Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled civic authority asked meat-sellers to shut down their shops during the ongoing Navaratri festivities.

“We must make a practice to stand up to not only our adversaries but also our allies,” Omar stated.

In her reply, Sherman told Omar that the Biden administration had been raising concerns about the human rights’ record with every government it has been interacting with since it came to power.
“That is true for the secretary of state and that is true for the President of the United States,” Sherman stated.

‘Unbecoming’ of a US Congress Member, Top Hindu Group Says

Top Hindu rights group Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an ideological ally of Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), condemned Omar for commenting on “India’s internal affairs”.
It is unbecoming of a US Congress member to assassinate the character of a democratically-elected leader like Narendra Modi by comparing him to a dictator,” VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal told Sputnik.
“India has a strong tradition of inter-faith harmony and minority rights are guaranteed by our constitution under Articles 29 and 30,” Bansal underlined. Both the provisions of the Indian Constitution guarantee linguistic and cultural rights of minorities in the country.
The Hindu activist claimed that the controversy over hijab was whipped by “certain vested interests to promote enmity” among different communities.
“By making these derogatory remarks, Omar has played into the hands of anti-woman and jihadi forces,” Bansal stated, as he referred to hijab as a “tool to oppress” Muslim women.
He also accused Omar of having “double standards” by not highlighting the “plight” of Hindu minorities in predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.
Besides Bansal, many Indian social media users have also slammed Omar for the remarks against the Prime Minister.
A protesting farmer holds a placard on a major highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise announcement Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. that he will withdraw the controversial agriculture laws that prompted yearlong farmer protests, in what is seen as a major climbdown from his government. - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.01.2022
US Congressmen Accuse PM Modi of Inability to Protect Human Rights in India
Officially, India has been critical of American Congress members as well as organisations who have sought to call out Prime Minister Modi’s government for its stance towards the Muslim population and overall human rights record.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his visit to India last year that he'd held conversations around human rights with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar.
Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar retorted that “the quest for a more perfect union applies as much to the Indian democracy as it does to the American one”.
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