US has 'no locus standi' to comment on religious freedom in India: MEA on report alleging attacks by Hindu groups on minorities

India on Sunday rejected a US religious freedom report, saying it sees no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of its citizens' constitutionally protected rights.

In its annual International Religious Freedom Report 2018, released on Friday, the US state department said that mob attacks led by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018, amid rumours that victims had traded or killed cows for beef.

 US has no locus standi to comment on religious freedom in India: MEA on report alleging attacks by Hindu groups on minorities

Representational image. News18.

In response, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: "India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion."

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 fundamental rights, Kumar asserted, adding that the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities.

"We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens' constitutionally protected rights," he said.

What did the US report say

Mandated by the Congress, the US state department, in its voluminous report, gives its assessment of the status of religious freedom in almost all the countries and territories of the world.

Releasing the report at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the state department on Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was like a report card that tracks countries to see how well they have respected this fundamental human right.

The International Religious Freedom Report also alleged that some senior officials of the ruling BJP had made inflammatory speeches against the minority communities, and that India's Central and state governments, as well as parties, took steps that would affect Muslim practices and institutions.

"The government continued its challenge in the Supreme Court to the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords them independence in hiring and curriculum decisions," it said. "Proposals to rename Indian cities with Muslim provenance continued, most notably the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj. These proposals were designed to erase Muslim contributions to Indian history and had led to increased communal tensions."

Citing reports by NGOs, the US state department report also claimed that authorities often failed to prosecute perpetrators of "cow vigilante" attacks, which included killings, mob violence and intimidation.

"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," the report added.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi rejects report as 'prejudiced'

Meanwhile, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi rejected as "prejudiced" the US state department's report on International Religious Freedom 2018, criticising the BJP government

"Religious freedom is in India's DNA and we don't need a certificate from anyone. This report is far from ground realities and prejudiced," Naqvi told ANI, adding that  religious freedom in India is strong.

"People from every religion, faith and culture live here with religious fervor."


With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 23, 2019 13:48:48 IST