Taking umbrage at the aspersions caused by the release of the U.S. State Department’s 2022 Report on Religious Freedom, New Delhi on Tuesday said such reports continue to be based on “misinformation and flawed understanding”.
In a strongly worded rebuttal, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi slammed the Congressional report over its “confirmational biases” and said the report is based upon misconstrued and flawed apprehensions. He was responding to media queries regarding the release of the report.
In a statement released, he said, “We are aware of the release of the U.S. State Department 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom. Regrettably, such reports continue to be based on misinformation and flawed understanding.”
Further, the spokesperson added that motivated and biassed assessments will only undermine the reliability of these reports.
“Motivated and biassed commentary by some U.S. officials only serves to undermine further the credibility of these reports. We value our partnership with the U.S. and will continue to have frank exchanges on issues of concern to us,” he added.
Significantly, India’s reaction came after the U.S. State Department released its congressionally mandated annual report on international religious freedom, which cites the status of religious freedom across the world. In context with India, the report alleged that New Delhi had selectively cracked down on religious minorities.
The U.S. Department’s newly released Religious Freedom Report for 2022 surveys religious freedoms around the world and aims to provide a “fact-based, comprehensive view of the state of religious freedom” in nearly 200 countries and territories.
At an event held in Washington on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken addressed reporters, emphasising the concerning trends outlined in a recently released report. The report sheds light on various countries, including India, China, Russia, and Iran, and their violations pertaining to the targeting of specific religious communities. While Secretary Blinken did not mention India explicitly in his speech, a comprehensive section of the report, as well as a subsequent background briefing, highlighted the persistent targeted attacks against religious minorities in India. Additionally, an anonymous spokesperson at the briefing drew attention to India’s current ranking as the eighth highest-risk country for mass killings among 162 nations, according to a project conducted by the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
Meanwhile, India has recently also expressed outrage and rejected the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its annual report 2023 that alleged “severe violations” of religious freedom in the country. Earlier, responding to the media queries, the MEA termed the comments on India in the USCIRF Annual Report as biassed and motivated.
In its strongly worded statement, the ministry further added that the commission should desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India.
“The US Commission on International Religious Freedom continues to regurgitate biassed and motivated comments about India, this time in its 2023 annual report,” he said.
“We would urge USCIRF to desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India, its plurality, its democratic ethos and its constitutional mechanisms,” he added.