The government said Monday it would not allow its “strategic partnership” or “good relations” with the United States to become a hindrance in demanding justice for two persons of Indian origin who were murdered in that country. “Strategic partnership is a separate issue. It does not mean that we will overlook our own interests,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha after a few members sought to know whether the Indian government was putting adequate pressure on the US to punish the guilty in view of the strategic partnership.
“For us, strategic partnership is secondary. The security and protection of Indian nationals comes first,” Sushma said. “I want to assure the House that despite strategic partnership and good relations, our biggest and topmost priority is to ensure the safety and protection of Indians living in the United States. We will never overlook or ignore that. We will do everything possible to ensure that justice is delivered,” Sushma said. Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Harnish Patel were murdered in the United States in the last one month, while Deep Rai was injured. Sushma said the Indian government was looking at each incident as a hate crime.
“We don’t consider it a case of law and order problem. It is not as simple as that,” Sushma said. “In fact, the murder of Srinivas is being investigated by the police as a case of hate crime. In the case of Harnish Patel, the local police have said that it did not appear to be a case of hate crime. But we have suggested that the hate crime angle must not be ignored. Same in the case of Deep Rai as well.” The minister said India was in touch with the highest law enforcement authorities. “The US authorities have so far maintained that these are individual instances of hate crimes and asked us not to view them as part of any larger trend or pattern. But we are treading cautiously and keeping a careful watch to see whether any particular trend was emerging,” she said.
She also made a statement in which she referred to the “widespread condemnation” of these incidents by the “US leadership, both in the administration and the Congress”, including President Donald Trump and Speaker of House of Representatives Paul Ryan. Earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha resumed the discussion on the budget. M V Rajeev Gowda of the Congress called for state funding of elections, saying the budget proposals relating to poll funding were flawed and inadequate.
Jharna Das Baidya of the CPM brought up inadequate gender budgeting, reduced allocations for Integrated Child Development Scheme, and insufficient emphasis on schemes for Scs/STs. Tiruchi Siva of the DMK asked the government to present all information relating to demonetisation.