'Concerning Rise' in hate speech, anti-conversion laws in India: US

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a "concerning increase" in hate speech, anti-conversion laws, demolition of homes and places of worship for people belonging to minority groups in India.

Jun 27, 2024 - 15:01
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'Concerning Rise' in hate speech, anti-conversion laws in India: US

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday (local time) released the State Department's 2023 religious freedom report for over 200 countries and said there was a "concerning increase" in hate speech, anti-conversion laws, demolition of homes and places of worship for people belonging to minority groups in India.

In his remarks while releasing the report, Blinken said religious freedom was still not respected for millions of people across the world. He added that people, at the same time, were making serious efforts to protect religious freedom.

A row erupted during campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls when Opposition parties accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "hate speech". PM Modi, at a rally in Rajasthan, had alleged that the Congress planned to give away people's hard-earned money to "infiltrators" and "those who have more children". The BJP denied such accusations and hit back at the Congress.

According to the State Department's religious freedom report, senior US officials continued to raise concerns about religious freedom issues with their Indian counterparts last year.

The report mentioned instances of attacks on minority groups, including killings and assaults, and vandalism of their places of worship.Ten of India's 28 states have laws restricting religious conversions for all faiths. Some states impose penalties against forced conversions for marriage purposes, it said.

The report said that some members of minority groups challenged the government's ability and willingness to protect them from violence, investigate crimes against members of religious minority groups, and protect their freedom of religion or belief.

Last year, India rejected the State Department's religious freedom report on India and said it was based on "misinformation and flawed understanding".

According to political analysts, the US's criticism of India is generally restrained due to Washington's close economic ties with New Delhi and the latter's strategic importance for the Biden administration to counter China.

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