US report on religious freedom deeply biased, lacks an understanding of India's social fabric: MEA

Human rights and respect for diversity have been and remain a legitimate subject of discussion between India and the United States, he further stated.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 11:02 IST

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New Delhi: India on Friday warned the United States against turning bilateral dialogues on human rights and respect for diversity into a license for interference.

New Delhi rejected the US State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom for 2023, calling it “deeply biased”.

Randhir Jaiswal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi that the US report lacked understanding of the social fabric of India. The report is “visibly driven by vote bank considerations and a prescriptive outlook”, he told journalists.

The report released by the US State Department alleged growing religious intolerance in India. The US State Department said that Christians and Muslims had been arrested in India under laws banning forced religious conversions, which, according to the religious groups, had been in some cases used to harass and imprison members of minority communities on false and fabricated charges or for lawful religious practices.

 “Human rights and respect for diversity have been and remain a legitimate subject of discussion between India and the US,” Jaiswal said on Friday. He said that India had officially taken up in 2023 numerous cases in the US of hate crimes, racial attacks on Indian nationals and other minorities, vandalization and targeting of places of worship, violence, and mistreatment by law enforcement authorities, as well as yielding political space to advocates of extremism and terrorism abroad.

“However,” the MEA spokesperson said, “such dialogues should not become a license for foreign interference in other polities.”

Observing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated calls to enact a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) at the national level as called for in the Constitution instead of a system of separate personal laws for religious communities, the US State Department said that Muslim, Sikh, Christian, and tribal leaders and some state government officials opposed the initiative on the grounds it was part of a project to turn the country into a “Hindu Rashtra (a Hindu Nation)”.

“The exercise (publication of the report on International Religious Freedom by the US State Department) itself is a mix of imputations, misrepresentations, selective usage of facts, reliance on biased sources, and a one-sided projection of issues,” Jaiswal said on Friday, adding: “This extends even to the depiction of our Constitutional provisions and duly enacted laws of India. It has selectively picked incidents to advance a pre-conceived narrative as well.”  

“In some cases,” said the MEA spokesperson, “the very validity of laws and regulations are questioned by the report, as are the right of legislatures to enact them. The report also appears to challenge the integrity of certain legal judgments given by Indian courts”.

He noted that the US report had also targeted regulations that monitor misuse of financial flows into India. “Suggesting that the burden of compliance is unreasonable, it seeks to question the need for such measures. On its own part, the US has even more stringent laws and regulations and would surely not prescribe such solutions for itself,” said Jaiswal.

“In India, we see a concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship for members of minority faith communities,” the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said, releasing the 2023 report on International Religious Freedom in Washington DC on Friday. 

Published 28 June 2024, 11:02 IST

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