The US State Department on Thursday released a report on International Religious Freedom, shortly after which Blinken made a statement in which he alleged that India is seeing “increasing attacks on places of worship”. Another senior US official said some Indian officials were ignoring or even supporting such attacks.
Reacting sharply to the report and the comments, the ministry of external affairs issued a release stating they they have noted the “ill informed comments by senior US officials”.
Our response to media queries regarding the release of U.S. State Department 2021 Report on International Religious… https://t.co/BukWrGYK2k
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) 1654252679000
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “It is unfortunate that vote bank politics is being practiced in international relations. We would urge that assessments based on motivated inputs and biased views be avoided.”
“As a naturally pluralistic society, India values religious freedom and human rights. In our discussions with the US, we have regularly highlighted issues of concern there, including racially and ethnically motivated attacks, hate crimes and gun violence,” he added.
Assault on minorities: US report
The report said attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, had occurred throughout last year in India. These included cow vigilantism – assaults on non-Hindus for allegedly slaughtering cows or trading in beef.
Blinken said the report showed religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities were under threat around the world. “For example, in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we’ve seen rising attacks on people and places of worship,” Blinken said.
Rashad Hussain, who leads the US State Department’s efforts to monitor religious freedom around the world, said some Indian officials were “ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship”.
The annual report by the state department describes the status of religious freedom, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and “US policies promoting religious freedom in nearly every country and territory throughout the world”.
Blinken, after the recent 2+2 dialogue, had said in a joint press conference with foreign minister S Jaishankar that the US is “monitoring some recent concerning developments in India including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials”.
Jaishankar had responded later by saying that India too has its views about human rights in the US.
(With inputs from agencies)