Delhi: India Thursday slammed a US body's move to put India on its
'watch list' for allegedly inadequate response in protecting its
religious minorities, and asserted that the Indian constitution
guarantees freedom of religion and equality of opportunity to all
"India, a country of 1.1 billion people, is a multi-ethnic and
multi-religious society," external affairs ministry spokesperson
Vishnu Prakash said in response to a question.
constitution of India guarantees freedom of religion and equality of
opportunity to all its citizens who live and work together in peace
and harmony," he said.
"Aberrations, if any, are dealt with promptly within our legal
framework, under the watchful eye of an independent judiciary and a
vigilant media," the spokesperson said.
reported move referred to in the news reports is egrettable," he
was referring to the decision of the US Commission on International
Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to place India on its 'watch list' due to
"disturbing increase" in communal violence against religious
minorities in the country.
statement in Washington Wednesday, the USCIRF said India earned the
'watch list' designation due to the "disturbing increase" in
communal violence against religious minorities - specifically
Christians in Orissa in 2008 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 - and
the largely inadequate response from the Indian government to
protect the rights of religious minorities.
country designated on the USCIRF 'watch list' requires "close
monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious
freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government".
USCIRF, which released its annual report early this year, had put
off the publication of its India chapter due to the general
elections held in April and May.
members were keen to visit India for their first hand assessment of
the situation but they were not given visas.