By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 7 (IANS) The United States has said that it supports the right to peaceful assembly, but it considers New Delhi's action against yoga guru Baba Ramdev as "an internal Indian issue at this point."
"We've seen the various media reports about the incident. We consider it an internal Indian issue at this point," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters when asked to comment about Ramdev's forcible removal from an anti-graft mass agitation.
"Speaking more broadly, though, we do support the right to peaceful assembly, but we also support a democratic government's right to require permits and enforce public security," he said. "But again, we believe it's an internal matter for the Indian Government."
Asked why the US had not asked Indian authorities to protect peaceful protestors, Toner said: "It's a fair question, absolutely, because we have said elsewhere that we support the universal aspirations of people to demonstrate and to express their views in a peaceful manner."
"Look, my understanding of this case is that it's very complex," Toner said in response to persistent questioning about alleged police brutality.
"We obviously support their right to peaceful assembly. We respect India's stature as the world's largest democracy, and we believe it's, right now, an internal matter for them to decide the best way forward," he said.
"It's important to recognize that India is the world's largest democracy, has a responsibility to allow these peaceful protestors to express their views, but equally, there is a responsibility on the part of the protestors to do so in a responsible fashion and with the requisite security requirements," Toner said.
The spokesman also refused to draw a parallel between the Delhi incident and Tiananmen Square episode in China saying, "Again, I'm not going to draw parallels between the two cases, no."