- The US “very concerned” about religious freedom in India
- The US’ comment came in after observing an increase in communal violence in the country
It has been observed that India has been a very tolerant country in the past, which has respected all religions, however, an official from Trump’s administration has said that the US is “very concerned” about the religious freedom in India owing to what has been happening in the country.
Hours after the release of the “2019 International Religious Freedom Report” on Wednesday, Samuel Brownback, who is Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, made this comment.
The report which has been mandated by the US Congress documented the major instances across the world of violations of religious freedom and was released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department.
Previously, India rejected all the US religious freedom reports saying that it sees no locus standi for any foreign government to pronounce on the state of its citizens’ rights which are protected by the Constitution.
On Wednesday, Brownback said, “We do remain very concerned about what’s taking place in India. It’s historically just been a very tolerant, respectful country of religions, of all religions,” during a telephonic conversation.
The trend lines in India have been troubling because such a religious country and seeing such communal violence, said Brownback. He added, “We’re seeing a lot more difficulty.
I think really they need to have a – I would hope they would have an – interfaith dialogue starting to get developed at a very high level in India, and then also deal with the specific issues that we identified as well,”.
He also added, “It really needs a lot more effort on this topic in India, and my concern is, too, that if those efforts are not put forward, you’re going to see a growth in violence and increased difficulty within the society writ large,”.
Responding to a question, Brownback said that he had hoped that the faith of the minority is not blamed for the spread of the novel Coronavirus and that they would have access to the healthcare amidst the unprecedented crisis.
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had criticised any form of discrimination saying that the novel Coronavirus pandemic affects everyone equally. In a post on LinkedIn in February, he wrote, “COVID-19 does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or border before striking. Our response and conduct thereafter should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood,”.
Previously rejected the US religious freedom report, the government said, “India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion”.
In June 2019, the Foreign Minstry had said, “The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including its minority communities… We see no locus standi for a foreign entity/ government to pronounce on the state of our citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,”. According to the Union Home Ministry, 7,484 incidents of communal violence were reported between 2008 and 2017, in which more than 1,100 people lost their lives.