The US state department on Wednesday said there were 800 religiously-motivated attacks in India in 2014, and highlighted inflammatory remarks by Hindu fundamentalists.
But, the department noted Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly disapproved of them — one by minister Niranjan Joyti and the other by Pravin Togadia.
These observations were contained in the state department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2014, an annual round-up based on news reports and civil society filings.
The figure of 800 religiously-motivated attacks in 2014 from May to the end of the year, for instance, is derived from Act Now for Democracy and Harmony.
However, India chose to downplay the report and said the report is internal to the US administration. “It is widely acknowledged that the Constitution of India guarantees equal religious, social, political rights to all its citizens, including minorities. Any abuses are handled by our internal process, which includes the judiciary, vibrant press, civil society and the National Human Rights Commission,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
The US state department also noted continued attempts to stop religious conversion in India saying “Six out of 29 state governments enforced the existing anti-conversion laws”.
The report went on to say that the authorities continued to enforce laws designed to protect ‘religious sentiments’ and minimize the risk of religious violence, which some argued had the effect of limiting free expression related to religion. “Some human rights and religious minority groups said state-level ‘anti-conversion’ laws were designed to impede conversion from Hinduism, while not restricting conversion to Hinduism,” it added.
The report also noted that “hundreds of legal cases were pending from violence during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the 2002 Gujarat riots”. It also took note of the Nanavati Commission report on Gujarat riot.