India on Thursday abstained from the vote in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to discuss alleged abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
The move, initiated by the western countries, was defeated as only 17 of the 47 member countries voted for the debate while 19 were against it.
India has seldom commented on the situation in Xinjiang, preferring not to add another irritant to an already vexed relationship with China.
The result of the vote is seen as a blow to the West, which had for the first time moved a resolution for a debate on Xinjiang, using a report by former UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on the situation in the autonomous region.
Although the vote was about holding a debate on the human rights of Uyghurs, Somalia was the only Muslim country to back it. All other Muslim-majority countries, several of which have a questionable record on human rights, either voted against the discussion or abstained.
Another notable abstention was Ukraine, which is otherwise seen in the western camp owing to its ongoing conflict with Russia.
India’s decision to abstain is consistent with the position it has usually taken on such discussions and probes on human rights in various countries, taking the plea of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal matters of another country.
While this has been the norm with successive governments, the situation becomes compounded when it involves China.