India regrets U.S. criticism on religious freedom 2009-08-14 16:55:58   Print

    NEW DELHI, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- India has regretted a decision by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to put it on a list of states which failed to protect religious minorities.

    "India, a country of 1.1 billion people, is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Aberrations, if any, are dealt with promptly within our legal framework, under the watchful eye of an independent judiciary and a vigilant media. The reported move referred to in the news reports is regrettable," India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash told the media Thursday.

    The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said Wednesday that 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 as well as the largely inadequate response from the Indian government to protect the rights of religious minorities.

    Last year, Kandhamal district in Orissa witnessed weeks of anti-Christian violence after a Hindu leader was shot dead. The clashes erupted after Hindu groups blamed Christians for the killing.

    More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in the riots in Gujarat which began after 60 Hindus died in a fire on a train in 2002.

    Meanwhile, Orissa Christian leaders have categorically rejected the report of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom for questioning India's secular credentials and putting India in its "watch list".

    President of the Orissa Minority Forum, in a written statement, has called the report as "most unfortunate," and one that "lacks a proper understanding of the secular character of the country."

Editor: Sun Yunlong
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