India on Sunday replied to report published by the US Department of State on religious freedom saying that the country is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion. This came after an official US report said 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 Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, "the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities. We see no locus standi for a foreign entity to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights."
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The US report had said that though India’s Constitution guarantees the right to religious freedom, “this history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives”.
“In 2018, approximately one-third of state governments increasingly enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws discriminatorily against non-Hindus and Dalits alike. Further, cow protection mobs engaged in violence predominantly targeting Muslims and Dalits, some of whom have been legally involved in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations. Mob violence was also carried out against Christians under accusations of forced or induced religious conversion,” the report said.
The report however praised Indian judiciary for providing protections to religious minority communities.
“In 2018, the Supreme Court of India highlighted the deteriorating conditions for religious freedom in some states, concluding that certain state governments were not doing enough to stop violence against religious minorities and, in some extreme instances, impunity was being granted to criminals engaged in communal violence,” the report mentioned.
It also asked the US government to ensure that the Indian Central government does not use the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to “target international missionary and human rights groups”.
Reacting to the US report, BJP media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni said India had deep-rooted democratic institutions, including fiercely independent and pro-active judiciary, which is capable of handling such disputes and punish the guilty.
“The basic presumption in this report that there is some grand design behind anti-minority violence is simply false. On the contrary, in most of such cases, these instances are carried out as a result of local disputes and by (people with) criminal mindsets,” PTI quoted Baluni as saying.