India dismisses US report on its state of religious freedom

(Photo: REUTERS / Amit Dave)Volunteers of the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) take part in a drill on the last day of their three-day workers' meeting in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad January 4, 2015.

India has rejected a scathing report by a U.S. government commission on the country's state of religious freedom, insisting that the analysis fails to understand the intricacies of its culture and society.

The report was issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body.

It urged the U.S. State department to include India in its list of countries categorized as having "serious" issues on religious freedom, but not enough to become a "country of particular concern."

"It appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its constitution and its society," said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs, ndtv reported. "We take no cognizance of this report."

The commission said it was concerned about the Indian government sanctioned "ghar wapsi" or religious conversion campaigns and troubling statements issued by several members of the ruling party.

"Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)," the report read.

The commission noted that religious leaders and other nongovernmental organizations attributed the rise in religious-motivated violence to the victory of the BJP at the 2014 general elections.

It urged India to do to rein in reckless politicians who ignite religious tension through polarizing statements.

The government ought to "publicly rebuke government officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities," the report said.

It did recognize efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the situation, starting with a public pronouncement supporting religious freedom in February.

Modi issued his first comments on the country's state of religious freedom at a Christian event months after a spate of violence against minorities like attacks against churches and communities took place.

India has been on the commission's tier 2 list since 2009.

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