India snubs US on religious freedom report, says it has no locus standi to judge
Responding to a report on International Religious Freedom by the US state department that claimed that religious freedom in India saw a downward trend since 2018, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has officially rejected the claims, saying it sees no locus standi for a foreign government to pronounce on the state of its citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.
In its annual 2018 International Religious Freedom Report published on Friday (June 21), the state department of the US government alleged 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.
Responding to media queries on the report, MEA 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.”
The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities, he said.
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.
“We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” he said.
Previously the BJP slammed the report saying the report is biased towards the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The US state department’s 2018 International Religious Freedom Report shows clear bias against the Narendra Modi government and the BJP, the party said on Saturday, asserting that its leaders had strongly deplored violence against minorities and weaker sections of society.
The report, released on June 21, alleged that some senior leaders of the BJP “made inflammatory speeches against minority communities”.
“Mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that victims had traded or killed cows for beef,” it added.
In a statement, BJP media head and Rajya Sabha lawmaker Anil Baluni said, “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.”
Whenever needed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders have strongly deplored violence against minorities and weaker sections of the society, he added.
Mr Baluni said India has deep-rooted democratic institutions, including fiercely independent and pro-active judiciary, which is quite capable of handling such disputes and punish the guilty.
Unfortunately, this fact is completely ignored in this report, he said, adding that the BJP under the leadership of PM Modi believes in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (With all, development for all).
“Mega schemes launched and effectively implemented by the Modi government have benefited all the castes, religions and regions equally. BJP is indeed proud of its record in uplifting living standards of all poor, underprivileged sections of the society, irrespective of their faith and gender,” he said in the statement.
Indian people have recently reaffirmed their confidence on the development agenda of the BJP-led NDA alliance by giving PM Modi a massive mandate in the parliamentary election, he said.
Mandated by the Congress, the 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, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said the report was like a report card which tracks countries to see how well they have respected this fundamental human right.
(With inputs from agencies)