New Delhi, Jun 3 (EFE).- The Indian government on Friday said an annual report on religious freedom worldwide prepared by the United States was “unfortunate,” after it flagged rising violence against religious minorities in India, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014.
“It is unfortunate that vote bank politics is being practiced in international relations,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in response to journalists’ questions over the report, released by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.
Bagchi urged the US to avoid “assessments based on motivated inputs and biased views,” and said that the comments targeting India in the report were made by “ill-informed” US officials.
“As a naturally pluralistic society, India values religious freedom and human rights,” said the spokesperson and in turn commented pointedly on the situation of minorities in the North American nation, including “racially and ethnically motivated attacks, hate crimes and gun violence.”
The 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom has flagged rising attacks against religious minorities and places of worship in India, basing its assessment on information and data offered by several nonprofits and Indian authorities themselves.
According to data provided by India’s National Crime Records Bureau, cases of communal violence in the country nearly doubled to 857 in 2020, from 438 in 2019.
Christian NGO Open Doors said that overall violence against Christians and pressure against the community “in all spheres of life” remained “very high”, as Hindu radicals were trying to “cleanse the country of their presence and influence.”
The document also refers to a study by the nonprofit United Christian Forum, which said that the number of violent attacks against Christians in India rose to 486 in 2021, from 279 in 2020.
Human Rights Watch said that Modi’s government “adopted laws and policies that discriminated against religious minorities, especially Muslims,” and that some leaders of the ruling BJP openly “vilified” Muslims without facing action.
The report also mentioned terror attacks carried out by separatist groups in India-administered Kashmir targeting migrant workers and other Hindus and Sikhs, who are in a minority in the Muslim-majority region.
On Thursday, a Hindu bank employee was shot dead in the second such targeted killing of within a week in Kashmir, as part of rising violence against minorities. EFE