India rubbishes US report on religious freedom

India rubbishes US report on religious freedom

India today rubbished a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that alleged escalation of hate crimes against minorities in the country, saying it has serious doubts on the report's credibility.

"We have rejected the USCIRF Annual Reports in the past as well. We have serious doubts on their credibility. Government does not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens' constitutionally protected rights. We take no cognisance of their report," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

The USCIRF report alleged that religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversions have escalated dramatically since 2014 and asked the US to put human rights at the heart of trade and diplomatic interactions with India.

"India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination," said USCIRF chair Thomas J Reese.

"However, the reality is far different. In fact, India's pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges in a number of its states," he said.

"During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India. To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align theirs laws with both the country's constitutional commitments and international human rights standards," Reese said.

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