Motivated, Biased Commentary: India On US Report Expressing Concern Over Religious Freedom

The MEA on Tuesday said a report of the US State Department expressing concern over religious freedom in India was based on “misinformation and flawed understanding”. In a statement, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “motivated” and “biased commentary” by some US officials only undermines further the credibility of these reports.

“Regrettably, such reports continue to be based on misinformation and flawed understanding. Motivated and biased commentary by some US officials only serves to undermine further the credibility of these reports,” the MEA said.

“We value our partnership with the US and will continue to have frank exchanges on issues of concern to us,” the statement further said.

The report, released on May 15, listed attacks against religious minorities, including Muslims and Christians, in India, AFP reported.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, while presenting the report, did not mention India even as he voiced alarm on actions by authorities in China, Iran, Myanmar and Nicaragua.

The incidents that were mentioned in the report include the release of convicts in the Bilkis Bano rape case, public flogging of Muslim men in Gujarat’s Kheda during Navaratri celebrations and the bulldozing of Muslim activist Afreen Fatima’s home in Uttar Pradesh. The hijab row in Karnataka also found a mention.

In its report, the US State Department said there were various reports of violence by law enforcement authorities against members of religious minorities in multiple states, including “plainclothes police in Gujarat publicly flogging four Muslim men accused of injuring Hindu worshippers during a festival in October”.

The report, based on research as well as accounts by media and advocacy groups, also pointed to concerns about home demolitions of Muslims. The report mentioned the Madhya Pradesh government’s move to bulldoze Muslim-owned houses and shops following communal violence in Khargone in April, PTI reported.

India has always maintained US’ religious freedom reports doesn’t paint the true picture and are biased. Earlier this month, US Commission on International Religious Freedom once again recommended that the State Department put India on a blacklist over its record.