Indians join Pakistanis in urging Gates Foundation not to honor Indian PM

Indians and Pakistani human rights activists have come together to urge the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation not to honor Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an award in light of the alarming human rights situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

According to reports, two prominent lawyers and activists of Indian origin have strongly urged the Gates Foundation not to honour Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an award for his sanitation and toilet access project across India.

The two lawyers cite the repressive actions of the Indian PM in occupied Kashmir, where thousands have been detained and tortured in custody as a military curfew in the valley stretches well into a second month, as the reason behind their call.

“While public health is undoubtedly a priority in India and around the world, such an honour would come as his Hindu nationalist party has incited violence against minorities,” the two lawyers said in an article published in The Washington Post on Saturday.

Suchitra Vijayan is a lawyer and executive director of the Polis Project, and Arjun Singh Sethi is a human rights lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Modi has silenced dissent and curtailed freedom of expression,” the two lawyers wrote in the American publication. Indian news website The Scroll reports that a group of South Asians have echoed these calls.

“Under Modi’s leadership, religious minorities are facing heightened levels of violence, exclusion, and discrimination,” the group have said in an open letter to the Gates Foundation.

The group further added that gross human rights violations in India must not be diminished, denied, or compartmentalised, and especially not by philanthropic entities such as the Gates Foundation which seek to address global inequality.

The letter claims that the award would undercut and demoralise India’s beleaguered civil society and signal the world’s willingness to overlook, and remain silent, in the face of the Indian government’s brazen violations of human rights principles.

India PM Modi had revoked the special constitutional status of occupied Kashmir on August 5 and imposed a military curfew in the valley, imprisoning thousands of ordinary Kashmiris. Pakistan has called for a UN probe into the rights violations in the valley.