India on Thursday, 27 February, described the comments by a US commission on religious freedom and by “few individuals” concerning the violence in Delhi as “factually inaccurate, misleading” and an attempt to politicize the issue.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar’s reaction came a day after the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed “grave concern” over the violence in Delhi and asked the Indian government to provide protection to people irrespective of their faith.
US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and a number of other leading American lawmakers have also expressed concern over the clashes in several parts of Delhi in which at least 34 people have been killed.
Though MEA did not clarify the individuals being referred to, it is being seen as a reference to US lawmakers critical of India on the issue of Delhi violence.
Kumar said law enforcement agencies are working on the ground to prevent violence and ensure restoration of confidence and normalcy.
“Senior representatives of the government have been involved in that process. The prime minister has publicly appealed for peace and brotherhood. We would urge that irresponsible comments are not made at this sensitive time,” said Kumar.
What Did the USCIRF Say?
On Wednesday, the USCIRF said, “The ongoing violence we are witnessing in Delhi and the reported attacks against Muslims, their homes and shops, and their houses of worship, are greatly disturbing.”
“One of the essential duties of any responsible government is to provide protection and physical security for its citizens, regardless of faith,” it added.
“We urge the Indian government to make serious efforts to protect Muslims and others targeted by mob violence,” USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said in a statement on Wednesday.
USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava too said the “brutal and unchecked violence” across Delhi cannot continue.
“The Indian government must take swift action to ensure the safety of its citizens,” she said, adding that reports are mounting that the “Delhi Police have not intervened in violent attacks against Muslims, and the government is failing in its duty to protect its citizens”.
“These incidents are even more concerning in the context of efforts within India to target and potentially disenfranchise Muslims across the country, in clear violation of international human rights standards,” Bhargava said.
In its 2019 report, the USCIRF had classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designations as a country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act.