Did US Defence Secy Discuss Human Rights Issue With Indian Min?
US Defence Secretary stated on record that he held discussions over human rights issues with Indian ministers.
Several social media users falsely claimed that NDTV peddled ‘fake news’ after the media house published a report on the visit of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to India.
Based on statements made by Austin in a press briefing in Delhi on 20 March, NDTV reported that he held talks with Indian ministers over human rights issues in the country. Despite the statement being on record, users falsely called NDTV out for spreading ‘fake news.’
While, the Indian government has not issued a formal denial, users attached a screenshot of a tweet by news agency ANI, wherein sources ‘confirmed’ that the US defence secretary did not talk about human rights.
User Avinash Srivastava shared the claim, garnering over 5,700 likes at the time of writing this article.
The claim was shared by several other users on Twitter and Facebook.
Facebook page ‘Presstitutes’ also shared the claim, garnering over 1,200 likes at the time of writing this article.
WHAT WE FOUND
While concluding his three-day visit to India, the US Secretary of Defence stated that he discussed human rights issues with ministers, in a press conference held at Delhi. A transcript of the conference is available on the US government’s official website for the Department of Defence.
Austin was asked by a reporter if he had a chance to “question of violations of the human rights especially against Muslim minorities” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He replied that while he did not have an opportunity to discuss it with PM Modi, he brought up the issue with other members of the Cabinet.
Human rights were also brought up in another question, wherein a reporter referred to a letter by the chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, Senator Robert Menendez to Austin. The Senator had demanded that Austin urge India to uphold human rights and democratic values.
WHAT DID NDTV AND ANI REPORT?
NDTV’s report carried quotes from the briefing verbatim.
Further, ANI had also reported on 20 March, that the Defence Secretary had brought up the issue of human rights in his talks with the Indian ministers.
Naveen Kapoor, the National Bureau Chief of ANI also tweeted the same.
It must be noted that the Indian government has not issued a formal denial yet.
Discussions on human rights issues in the country are crucial in the backdrop of reports declaring India an ‘electoral autocracy’ instead of a democracy. US-based human rights watchdog Freedom House had also said that India has fallen from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’ status since PM Narendra Modi took over in 2014.
Evidently, NDTV’s report is based on statements made by the US Secretary of Defence on record.
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