India rejects critical US religious freedom report

An annual report on international religious freedom released by Pompeo on Friday said Hindu groups had used “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity.

“Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi administration has not addressed the problem,” the report said.

In its annual 2018 International Religious Freedom Report, the State Department alleged Friday that mob attacks 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.

The report also suggested that the US government press Indian government to allow a delegation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to visit India and meet stakeholders to evaluate conditions for freedom of religion.

“India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a long-standing commitment to tolerance and inclusion,” spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement.

Indian foreign ministry rejected the report and said that there was no right “for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

“The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities. It is widely acknowledged that India is a vibrant democracy where the Constitution provides protection of religious freedom, and where democratic governance and the rule of law further promote and protect the fundamental rights,” said the statement issued.

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