India rejects US report on religious freedom

World Sunday 23/June/2019 16:46 PM
By: Times News Service
India rejects US report on religious freedom

New Delhi: The Indian government on Sunday rejected a US Department of State report that claimed the government was unable to uphold citizen's religious freedom.

Regarding India, the report said: "There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytise. According to Ministry of Home Affairs data presented in the lower house of parliament on 6 February, communal incidents increased by nine percent from 2015 to 2017, with 822 incidents resulting in 111 deaths and 2,384 injuries in 2017."

In addition to highlighting a number of incidents where religious minorities allegedly faced violence in India, the report also added, "In its World Report covering 2018, Human Rights Watch said the government failed to “prevent or credibly investigate” mob attacks on religious minorities, marginalised communities, and critics of the government."

India responded by publicly rejecting the report, saying it saw no credibility in a "foreign entity” providing a verdict "on the state of our citizens' constitutionally protected rights."

"India is proud of its secular credentials ... the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities," India's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, said in a statement.

"It is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights," Kumar added. "We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens' constitutionally protected rights."

According to the US State Department, the annual International Religious Freedom Report describes the status of religious freedom in every country.

The report covers government policies that violate religious beliefs and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and highlights US policies to promote religious freedom around the world. The report is submitted by the state department in accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.