The Biden administration wants the Indian government to condemn acts of violence based on religion and hold the perpetrators accountable, a senior official said Monday, just a month before a state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The State Department released an annual report on religious freedom which listed attacks against religious minorities including Muslims and Christians in the Narendra Modi-led nation.
Briefing reporters on the report on the condition of anonymity, a senior US official spoke of India’s “vast potential”, expressing his sadness over the persistent religious violence.
“Regarding these concerns, we’re continuing to encourage the government to condemn violence and hold accountable (those) who engage in rhetoric that’s dehumanising towards religious minorities,” the official said.
Promising to speak “directly” with Indian officials, the official said: “We’ll continue to work very closely with our civil society colleagues on the ground (and) with courageous journalists that are working every day to document some of these abuses.”
The report issued by the State Department was based on direct research, and accounts by media and advocacy groups. It pointed to the concerns surrounding the demolitions of houses against Muslims and their public flogging by police accused of injuring Hindus in Gujarat.
The autonomous US Commission on International Religious Freedom has once again recommended to the State Department put India on a blacklist over its record on religious freedom.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will list “countries of particular concern” on religious freedom later this year. However, it is expected that he would spare India.
While voicing alarm regarding the actions by authorities in China, Iran, Myanmar and Nicaragua, Blinken did not mention India.
“We defend the right to believe — or to not believe — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because of the extraordinary good that people of faith can do in our societies and around the world,” he said.