India on Sunday rejected a US State Department report which criticised the status of minorities here, saying it has “no locus standi” to “pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.
In response to a query on the latest ‘Report on International Religious Freedom’ published by the State Department, the Ministry of External Affairs official 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 on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” he said.
Significantly, the report was released just ahead of US Secretary of State Mike 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 said.
“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.”
The US State Department report stated, “Some senior officials of the Hindu-majority Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made inflammatory speeches against minority communities. Mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumors that victims had traded or killed cows for beef.”
It added, “The central and state governments and members of political parties took steps that affected Muslim practices and institutions. The government continued its challenge in the Supreme Court to the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords them independence in hiring and curriculum decisions. Proposals to rename Indian cities with Muslim provenance continued, most notably the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj.”
The BJP had reacted strongly to the report on Saturday, saying that it “shows clear bias against the Modi government and BJP”. Drawing on the slogan “sabka saath, sabka vikas,” the party said that its “mega-schemes” have cut across castes and religion.