Recognise ‘Hinduphobia’ and violence against Buddhists, Sikhs too: Indian envoy to U.N.

India’s Ambassador to the United Nations says global terror strategy is selective, urges against adding right wing extremism, violent nationalism to anti-terror resolutions

January 20, 2022 09:11 am | Updated January 21, 2022 07:13 am IST - NEW DELHI

India's Permanent Representative to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti speaking at the UNSC, in New York. File

India's Permanent Representative to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti speaking at the UNSC, in New York. File

Calling for the United Nations to recognise ‘Hinduphobia’ along with other acts of religious hatred against Buddhism and Sikhism, India’s U.N. envoy T.S.Tirumurti said that the U.N.’s latest Global Counter-Terrorism strategy passed last year is full of flaws and is selective, and could reverse gains from the global consensus in the “war on terror” post 9/11. In remarks indicating the government’s discomfort with new terms being added to the definition of terrorism, he also said that terms like “violent nationalism” and “right wing extremism” must not be included to resolutions on terrorism, as they would “dilute” them.

“In the past two years, several member states, driven by their political, religious and other motivations, have been trying to label terrorism into categories such as racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism, violent nationalism, right wing extremism, etc. This tendency is dangerous for several reasons,” Mr. Tirumurti said, delivering a keynote address at a virtual conference organised by the Delhi-based Global Counter-Terrorism Centre (GCTC), where he said he spoke as Ambassador of India to the U.N. and not in his capacity as Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) at the U.N. Security Council for 2022.

India assumed the chair of the CTC this month, and Mr. Tirumurti’s strong remarks suggest that India will oppose any expansion of the terms that are included in the UNSC’s discussions on terrorism, until it demits the UNSC seat in December this year.

Mr. Tirumurti pointed out that only religious phobias against “Abrahamic religions”: Islam, Christianity and Judaism had been named in the “Global Counter Terrorism Strategy’s” 7th review passed by the U.N. General Assembly in June 2021. “The emergence of contemporary forms of religiophobia, especially anti-Hindu, anti-Buddhist and anti-Sikh phobias is a matter of serious concern and needs attention of the U.N. and all member states to address this threat,” Mr. Tirumurti said, without mentioning any examples.

In comments that appeared to counter recent criticism in western press of “right-wing” ideology in India, the envoy said that putting “labels” to “so-called” threats was “misleading and erroneous”.

“It is important to understand that in democracies right-wing and left-wing are part of the polity primarily because they come to power through the ballot reflecting the majority will of the people and also since democracy by definition contains a broad spectrum of ideologies and beliefs,” Mr. Tirumurti said, adding that national or regional narratives must not become part of global narratives.

Mr. Tirumurti said that attempts to characterise the motivation behind terror groups were another danger that could take the world “back to the pre 9/11-era” where groups were labelled as “your terrorists and my terrorists”. At the UNSC, India also chairs the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee, and would have to preside over any requests on easing or waiving sanctions against Taliban leaders.

“Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones.Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable,” he said, calling on the Security Council “to be on guard against new terminologies and false priorities that can dilute our focus”.

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