India rejects US minorities status report

New Delhi: India on Sunday rejected outright a US State Department report which made certain critical comments regarding the status of minorities here, saying it has business to attack its record. An annual report on international religious freedom released by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said Hindu groups had used "violence, intimidation, and harassment" against Muslims and low-caste Dalits in 2017 to force a religion-based national identity. In response, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar underlined that India is a vibrant democracy where the fundamental rights of all its citizens, including minorities, are protected under the Constitution.

"We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce a verdict on the state of our citizens' constitutionally protected rights," he said. Significantly, the report was released just ahead of Pompeo's visit to India from June 25. "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," Kumar said. "The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities," the MEA spokesperson asserted.

The US religious freedom report said groups claiming to protect cows - considered sacred by Hindus - have attacked Muslims and Dalits. Christians have also been targeted for proselytising since Modi came to power in 2014. "Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi administration has not addressed the problem," the report said.

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