Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi calls International Religious Freedom report ‘prejudiced’

New Delhi (India): India’s Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Saturday rejected as “prejudiced” the US State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom 2018 criticising the BJP government.

“Religious freedom is in India’s DNA and we don’t need a certificate from anyone. This report is far from ground realities and prejudiced,” Naqvi told ANI.

He said religious freedom in India is strong and it is the only country in the world where people from every religion and faith live in a harmonious atmosphere.

“People from every religion, faith and culture live here with religious fervor,” he said.

The annual report, released by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, said that mob attacks, led by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018.

It alleged that some senior officials of the ruling BJP made inflammatory speeches against the minority communities.

The report said that India’s Central and State governments as well as parties took steps to affect Muslim practices and institutions.

“The government continued its challenge in the Supreme Court to the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords them independence in hiring and curriculum decisions.

“Proposals to rename Indian cities with Muslim provenance continued, most notably the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj. These proposals were designed to erase Muslim contributions to Indian history and had led to increased communal tensions,” the report said.

Citing reports by NGO’s, the US report claimed that authorities often failed to prosecute perpetrators of “cow vigilante” attacks, which included killings, mob violence and intimidation.

“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize,” the report added.