Reacting strongly to a United States report which said religious freedom in India was on a “negative trajectory” in 2015, India on Tuesday said it “fails to show proper understanding of India, its constitution and its society”.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the government does not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like US Commission on International Religious Freedom to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.
“Our attention has been drawn to the recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which once again fails to show proper understanding of India, its constitution and its society.
“India is a vibrant pluralistic society founded on strong democratic principles. The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens including the right to freedom of religion.
“The 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
cognizance of their report,” Swarup said.
He was reacting to the US report which said, “In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India.”
In its annual report, USCIRF asked the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory statements about religious communities.
Members of USCIRF were denied visas by Indian government early this year on the argument that religious freedom is enshrined in the constitution and any foreign third party has no locus standi to comment or investigate on it.
“Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups,” the report alleged.
USCIRF alleged that members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions.