MEA rejects U.S. State Department report citing deteriorating religious freedom in India

MEA also says comments about “continued targeting” of minorities are biased and motivated

Updated - May 17, 2023 12:10 am IST

Published - May 16, 2023 10:53 pm IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi during a media briefing in New Delhi. Photo: Facebook/MEAINDIA

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi during a media briefing in New Delhi. Photo: Facebook/MEAINDIA

Rejecting the U.S. government’s latest report on International Religious Freedom, which includes a chapter on India, the Ministry of External Affairs said it was based on “misinformation” and statements by officials were “motivated”. However the Ministry also said that India “values” its partnership with the United States and would continue to have “frank exchanges” on the issues involved. The report was released on Monday, and comes just a month before U.S. President Joseph Biden will welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a rare State Visit in Washington on June 22.

“We are aware of the release of the U.S. State Department 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a statement released on Tuesday. “Regrettably, such reports continue to be based on misinformation and flawed understanding,” he added, in a reference to previous reports by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom that criticised India.

The U.S. report on religious freedom had itemised a number of cases of alleged violence against Christians, Muslims and Dalits in India, and criticised Indian anti-conversion laws. It made a reference to Hindus in Kashmir who complained that they were not being allowed to leave the valley by the government despite being targeted by radical Islamist terrorists.

Significantly, the report also documented a number of alleged hate speech and instigated violence blamed on members of the ruling BJP, naming “BJP state politician Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul, who said that Muslims should be ‘set ablaze’; P.C. George, a former legislator in Kerala, who encouraged Hindus and Christians to not eat at restaurants run by Muslims; and former BJP Rajasthan legislator Gyan Dev Ahuja, who encouraged Hindus to kill Muslims suspected of cow slaughter”, among others.

The spokesperson also slammed comments by a senior U.S. official that followed the release of the report on Monday. The official, who spoke without being named had said that the U.S. government had called on New Delhi to condemn religious violence and hold groups that engaged in “dehumanising” rhetoric accountable. The official also said that the U.S. State Department report had outlined “continued targeted attacks” against “Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu Dalits, and indigenous communities”, “open calls for genocide against Muslims; lynching and other hate-fuelled violence, attacks on houses of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who’ve engaged in attacks on religious minorities”.

“Motivated and biased commentary by some U.S. officials only serves to undermine further the credibility of these reports,” the MEA spokesperson said in response on Tuesday.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.