The USCIRF has again raised 'concerns' over religious freedoms in India, citing alleged rise in 'hate speech', demolitions, and anti-conversion laws. Supporting, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also backed the report’s claims and alleged discrimination in India.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has vehemently rejected the US’ report calling it ‘biased’ with ‘preconceived narrative’.

Giving a ‘reality check’ to the United States, prominent religious scholars from India denounced the claims. Chairman of the Chishty Foundation Haji Syed Salman Chishty condemned the statements of Antony Blinken.

Earlier, India hit out at the US state department religious freedom report, saying it's deeply biased, lacks understanding about India's social fabric and is driven by vote bank considerations. In a lengthy response, Indian govt also told US that the "legitimate" dialogue on human rights and respect for diversity should not become a licence for foreign interference in other polities.

As it slammed the report, the foreign ministry said it has also raised with American authorities "political space to advocates of extremism and terrorism abroad".

Releasing the annual report on religious freedom around the world this week, secretary of state Antony Blinken had said that there's a concerning increase in anti-conversion laws, hate speech, demolitions of homes and places of worship for members of minority faith communities in India.

Rejecting the report, MEA said that the exercise itself is a mix of imputations, misrepresentations, selective usage of facts, reliance on biased sources and a one-sided projection of issues. "This extends even to the depiction of our Constitutional provisions and duly enacted laws of India. It has selectively picked incidents to advance a pre-conceived narrative as well," said MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal.

In some cases, he said, the very validity of laws and regulations are questioned by the report, as are the right of legislatures to enact them. The report also appears to challenge the integrity of certain legal judgments given by Indian courts, added the official.

While there's little risk of US taking any action against India, like including it in its annual black list of countries violating religious freedom, Indian govt sees such reports and remarks as pinpricks not in consonance with the growing strategic partnership between the two democracies.

According to Indian govt, the report has also targeted regulations that monitor misuse of financial flows into India. "Suggesting that the burden of compliance is unreasonable, it seeks to question the need for such measures. On its own part, US the United States has even more stringent laws and regulations and would surely not prescribe such solutions for itself," said the official.

Acknowledging human rights and respect for diversity as a legitimate subject of discussion between the countries, govt said it has itself raised concerns over violation of rights in US.

(With Agency Inputs)