A strong protest was lodged against the remarks made by the Iranian foreign minister. Close on the heels of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemning the Delhi riots and urging Indian authorities to ensure the well-being of all Indians, the Ministry of External Affairs has summoned the Iranian Ambassador Ali Chegeni

New Delhi based experts find Iran’s statement on a totally internal matter as unacceptable and bizarre

What Did India Say?

A strong protest was lodged against the remarks made by the Iranian foreign minister. The Iranian envoy was told that the remarks made by his minister are unwarranted and India does not expect such comments from a country like Iran.

According to the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar “It was conveyed that his selective and tendentious characterisation of recent events in Delhi is not acceptable.”

Expert Views:

Ambassador Anil Trigunayat says, “I am not surprised by the uncalled-for derogatory statement of Iranian Foreign Minister against the unfortunate communal violence in India which is totally an internal matter of India. An embattled Iran is looking to assume some kind of leadership role and misplaced relevance of the Muslim community especially Shias and probably thinks it might give them some leverage forgetting that to look after and protect all Indians irrespective of religion is the duty and responsibility of India state which it does.”

“Some aberrations do not prove the rule or justify standoffish comments from foreign govt officials. That the violence was organized is presumptuous and short on facts. In India, there is a rule of law and constitutionally India is a secular nation. We ourselves condemn all violence and expect that all perpetrators must be brought to justice. But there is no place for self-proclaimed spokesmen to interfere in internal affairs of India,” the former ambassador of India to Jordan, Libya & Malta opines.

According to Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU states “It’s unclear why Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif used such strong words against the Indian government and its inaction in dealing with the riots in Delhi. It is clearly not a consequence of the human rights situation itself, terrible as it is. Though it is unfair to compare such situations, Iran has not really been at the forefront in condemning China’s treatment of the Uyghur, which includes putting the population in concentration camps and efforts to essentially wipe out Uyghur culture.”

“The point is that this partly reflects relative power: Iran needs China more because of China’s power and because Iran is confronting the US. Neither reason works for India. On the other hand, for New Delhi, the US is obviously much more valuable a partner than Iran. As in other cases, India will be forced to choose, and Iranian behaviour only hastens the process. But equally, the current Indian government should realize that its domestic behaviour cannot be entirely divorced from its foreign policy. And India’s domestic behaviour carries a cost, even if it is only in terms of diverting India’s scarce foreign policy capacity to fight these unnecessary fires,” Rajagopalan opines.

Brig Nalin Bhatia, Indian Army veteran says “Iran’s statement on a totally internal matter is unacceptable and bizarre. If one is to see Iran’s own record of human rights and treatment of minorities, it would leave much to be desired. India has been a traditional close friend of Iran and has maintained its relationship in spite of global pressures. Lately, Iran’s belligerent attitude has threatened regional security and led to instability in the Middle East.”

Sharing his view, Bhatia says “Iran’s use of Shia proxies to further its own agenda is a challenge for the Islamic world. Iran is devoid of friends even in the Islamic world and would need to rethink its policies to stay away from brinkmanship. Currently, Indian interests in Iran evolve around developing connectivity and links for easy access to Central Asia and Afghanistan through Chabahar port. These would certainly be impacted if relations between the two countries deteriorate.”

“India’s other close allies in the gulf have refrained from commenting on the current state of affairs in India. Iranian statement should be seen as trying to assume the leadership of the Islamic world although that may be impossible within the Islamic world due to deep mistrust of Iranian intentions,” Bhatia adds.

“The comment reflects a recent dip in India-Iran relations. It was very undiplomatic of the Iranian foreign minister to use Twitter to convey his message to the Indian government on a sensitive issue. He should have been careful and concerns (if any) should have been expressed personally, not through social media. Given its competition with Saudi Arabia to emerging as a true leader of Muslims around the world, Iran may have been in a hurry to make a statement on recent violence in Delhi,” Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Consultant, Faculty of Political Science, IGNOU, says.

“However, Iran should not forget that it continues to target its Baha’i community and violate their human rights. Iran has been openly supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan who have been killing their Muslim brothers for decades now. In the spirit of their strategic partnership, India and Iran should refrain from making statements on their internal affairs and instead, direct their energy in further deepening this relationship,” Sharma says.

The incident also shows that the Indian government needs to step up its communication with the other countries over recent happenings in India. A nudge from India to desist from comments on its internal affairs may not have come too late.