India snubs US report on religious freedom

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) India on Thursday snubbed a US report on International Religious Freedom that expressed concern over reports of religiously-motivated killings in the country, saying the Indian constitution provides every citizen equal religious, political and social rights.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the US report, released in Washington on Wednesday, is “internal to the US administration. It is widely acknowledged that the Indian constitution guarantees equal rights – religious, political and social rights – to its citizens, including its minorities; and any abuses are handled by internal process, including the judiciary, a vibrant media, civil society and the National Human Rights Commission etc”.

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2014, released by US Secretary of State John Kerry, expressed concern over reports of religiously-motivated killings, coerced religious conversions, and actions restricting the right of individuals to change religious beliefs in India.

However, the report gave a thumbs-up to the Indian authorities as they “continued to enforce laws designed to protect ‘religious sentiments’ and minimise the risk of religious violence, which some argued had the effect of limiting freedom of expression related to religion”.

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