‘Focus on Your Own Backyard’: BJP Rejects Religious Freedom Report

MEA refuses to take cognisance of the report submitted by a US Congressional panel that is critical of ghar wapsi. 

2 min read
US Congressional panel submits a report saying Modi government has been intolerant towards minorities. (Photo: Reuters)

Barely a month after US President Barack Obama wrote a glowing profile for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a US Cogress-established panel has hit out at his government.

A report submitted by the panel said, religious minorities in India have been subjected to “violent attacks, forced conversions” and ghar wapsi campaigns by groups like RSS after the Modi government assumed power in 2014.

India however reacted strongly to the report saying it does not take cognizance of such reports.

“US Should Focus on Its Own Backyard”

“It would not be proper on the part of those who are ignorant of India’s culture, society, customs and constitution to give a certificate about the country’s social harmony and religious freedom,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Our Constitution, culture and government are committed to ensuring the security and freedom of minorities in India. Please do not judge our religious freedom through the issue of NGO licences.
–Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State

BJP Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the United States should look in its own backyard rather than commenting on the religious tolerance in India.

US should focus in its own backyard where riots have been taking place instead of commenting on ‘Religious Tolerance’ in India. Minorities are completely safe in India.
–Shahnawaz Hussain, BJP Spokesperson

External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Our attention has been drawn to a report of the USCIRF which has passed judgement on religious freedom in India.

“The report appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its Constitution and its society. We take no cognisance of the report.”

What the Report Said

In its 2015 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked the Obama administration to press the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory remarks about communities.

The panel said that despite the country’s status as a pluralistic, secular democracy, India has long struggled to protect minority religious communities or provide justice when crimes occur, which perpetuates a climate of impunity.

Incidents of religiously-motivated and communal violence reportedly have increased for three consecutive years, the panel said in its key findings.

Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan tend to have the greatest number of religiously- motivated attacks and communal violence incidents.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and religious leaders, including from the Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities, attributed the initial increase to religiously- divisive campaigning in advance of India’s 2014 general election.

“Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP),” the report said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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