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India Rejects US Report On Religious Freedom, Says It Is ‘Committed To Tolerance’

India has rejected the findings of a US  State Department report on religious freedom. The report claimed that “mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities” continued throughout the year.

Responding to the report, foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India sees no credibility in a “foreign entity” pronouncing “on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

“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,” said Mr Kumar, a day after the BJP also criticised the report as “biased” against the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who won a second term with a massive majority in the national election.

“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 the fundamental rights,” the foreign ministry spokesperson said.

The “Report on International Religious Freedom 2018”, available on the website of the US State Department, alleges that the “authorities often failed to prosecute perpetrators of ‘cow vigilante’ attacks, which included killings, mob violence, and intimidation”, a charge that the government denies.

On Saturday, the BJP also dismissed the report as a flawed one. “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 mindset,” BJP media chief and parliamentarian Anil Baluni said in a statement.

He said India has deep-rooted democratic institutions, including fiercely independent and pro-active judiciary. “Unfortunately, this fact is completely ignored in this report,” he said. The Modi government believes in the policy of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas(development for all)”, he added.

The annual report to the US Congress on international religious freedom covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and US policies to promote religious freedom around the world, says the US State Department on its website.