MEA rejects US' report on religious freedom in India

Following the release of the annual report by United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which claimed religious intolerance increased in India in 2015, the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday slammed the US minorities watchdog and rejected the findings saying that it takes no cognizance of the report.

According to Economic Times, the 2016 annual report of the commission released on Monday said that the Indian government publicly rebuked officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities.

“Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” the report alleged, according to a report by Deccan Chronicle.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to India Today, the report adds," In 2015, high-ranking members of the ruling BJP party, including the party's president Amit Shah, called for a nationwide anti-conversion law".

The USCIRF report claimed that India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom.

It also recommended to the US government that its bilateral contacts with New Delhi, “including the framework of future Strategic Dialogues,” must integrate this concern, reported The Hindu.

Completely rejecting the USCIRF report, the Centre on Tuesday said the “foreign entity” has no business commenting on the constitutionally protected rights of Indian citizens.

“Our attention has been drawn to the recent report by the USCIRF, which once again fails to show proper understanding of India, its constitution and its society,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup told journalists in New Delhi, according to The Indian Express.

He also mentioned, as reported by DNA, the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all citizens, including the right to freedom of religion.

He further stated that there was no locus standi for a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens' constitutionally protected rights. "We take no cognizance of their report," Swarup was quoted as saying by Free Press Journal.

MEA later tweeted to announce it did not approve of the report.

The report also mentioned Mohammad Akhlaq's Dadri case.

"According to members of the Muslim community, members of the BJP and the RSS over the past two years have used alleged violations of beef ban laws to inflame Hindus to violently attack Indian Muslims," said the report, specifically mentioning names of Sakshi Maharaj and Yogi Adityanath, as reported by The Times of India.

The USCIRF report comes just weeks before Narendra Modi proposed bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama where he is also scheduled to address a joint session of the US Congress.

Updated Date: May 04, 2016 19:14 PM

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