The US State Department’s 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom was categorically rejected by India on Tuesday, describing it as “flawed,” “motivated,” and “biassed.” This is not the first time the US has given India a damning assessment on the treatment of its minorities.
Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said in a statement on Tuesday in response to the report: “We are aware of the publication of the US State Department 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom. Unfortunately, these reports continue to be based on incomplete knowledge.
He added, “Motivated and biased commentary by some US officials only serves to undermine further the credibility of these reports. We value our partnership with the US and will continue to have frank exchanges on issues of concern to us.”
Prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first official visit to the US next month, the Religious Freedom Report was released.
At a news conference on Monday, Rashad Hussain, Ambassador at Large for the Office of International Religious Freedom, stated that “far too many governments, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, and China, continue to freely target members of the faith community within their borders.”
In fact, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been mentioned about 28 times, has taken a lot of heat in the report on India. The Bajrang Dal was named seven times in the study, while the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) was mentioned 24 times.
Additionally, it included the alleged hate speech and inflammatory remarks made by BJP officials around the nation.
“BJP state politician Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul said that Muslims should be set ablaze; PC George, a former legislator in Kerala, encouraged Hindus and Christians to not eat at restaurants run by Muslims; and former BJP Rajasthan state legislator Gyan Dev Ahuja encouraged Hindus to kill Muslims suspected of cow slaughter,” the report stated.
“In June, several parts of the country reported violent protests and acts of arson after spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal from the country’s ruling BJP made televised remarks about the Prophet Muhammad which were widely seen as offensive by Muslims,” it said.
The report also referenced Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s public speech in Hyderabad, where he pledged to abolish religious minorities’ job and educational quotas in Telangana if the BJP won the state Assembly elections scheduled for late 2023.
The report included names of individuals including Mohammad Zubair, Bilkis Bano, and Umar Khalid among others, despite the Central government questioning the dossier’s veracity. The report included information on all suspected hate crimes committed against members of all groups, not only minorities.
“On June 27, police arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, for a tweet he posted in 2018 that police said ‘deliberately insulted Hindus’,” the report said.
“On August 15, the 11 men convicted of raping Muslim woman Bilkis Bano and murdering 14 members of her family in 2002 were set free in Gujarat after serving 15 years in prison,” it added.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken published the yearly “Report on International Religious Freedom,” which is required by Congress and details the condition of religious freedom in various nations.