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India objects to US findings on religious freedom in India

India may do some plain speak on this issue during the June 26-27 visit of Pompeo, who had released the report.

, ET Bureau|
Jun 24, 2019, 07.22 AM IST
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Ravees-Kumar---Wikipedia
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar
NEW DELHI: India has taken strong exception to the findings in a US State Department report on religious freedom, and asserted that no foreign country or entity has any locus standi to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.

The US report said though India’s Constitution guaranteed the right to religious freedom, “this history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives.” It suggested that the US government press Indian government to allow a delegation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to visit India and meet stakeholders to evaluate conditions for freedom of religion. The release of the US State Department’s 2018 International Religious Freedom Report and India’s response come ahead of US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit to India and a proposed meeting in Osaka between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting later this week.

India may do some plain speak on this issue during the June 26-27 visit of Pompeo, who had released the report on Friday.

The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Sunday. “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.

We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a strongly worded statement. Earlier, BJP media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni said India had deep-rooted democratic institutions, including a fiercely independent and pro-active judiciary, which is capable of handling such disputes and punish the guilty. “The basic presumption in this report that there is some grand design behind anti-minority violence is simply false,” Baluni told news agency PTI.

The State Department, in the annual report, said mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018.
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