MEA dismisses USCIRF report, says it is biased

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NEW DELHI: Responding to criticism of India in the report on international religious freedom for 2019 published by the US state department, India said on Thursday that it saw no locus standi for a foreign entity to pronounce on the constitutionally protected rights of Indian citizens and that the panel had exhibited its bias and lack of understanding.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF) reports on India and its minorities have been a regular friction point with the Indian government vigorously rejecting its critical commentary.
In an indicator to its formal response, external affairs minister

S Jaishankar

had written to


MP Nishikant Dubey that the USCIRF has been known to make “prejudiced, inaccurate and misleading observations” on the state of religious freedom in India.
“We do not take cognisance of these pronouncements and have repudiated such attempts to misrepresent information related to India,” he wrote while confirming that visa requests by the Commission teams had been denied.
On India, the report underscored the importance of respecting religious freedom and promoting tolerance and mutual respect throughout the year with the ruling and opposition parties, civil society and religious freedom activists, and religious leaders belonging to various faith communities.
It referred to the decision to make Jammu and


a Union territory last August and the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) while detailing its concerns. On Thursday, the


said this has been India’s principled position.
The report, said the government, is published annually by the state department as part of its legal requirement to the US Congress and is an internal document of the US government.
“India’s vibrant democratic traditions and practices are evident to the world. The people and government of India are proud of our country’s democratic traditions,” said MEA spokesperson

Anurag Srivastava

. “We have a robust public discourse in India and constitutionally mandated institutions that guarantee protection of religious freedom and rule of law,” he added.

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