Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Lok Sabha Thursday, March 3, 2016. Picture: Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Feb 23, 2016.IANS

It is unfortunate that the 34 members of the United States Congress chose to focus only on a few incidents in India, India's ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in response to letter sent by the US Congressmen to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the letter, the US lawmakers had expressed concerns over growing intolerance and violence against religious minorities in India.

In response, the MEA said that "India is proud of its status as the world's largest democracy," adding that the Indian government is "fully committed to the Constitutional principles" of the nation that is "a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society." 

"We have seen the letter written by some members of the US Congress to the prime minister on religious freedom in India. It is unfortunate that these Members of Congress while applauding India as a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to inclusion and tolerance have chosen to focus on just a few incidents," the statement read.

"The Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights to all its citizens, including minority communities. Aberrations, if any, are dealt with by our internal processes which include our independent judiciary, autonomous National Human Rights Commission, vigilant media, and vibrant civil society," it added.

The letter, signed by 34 US House of Representatives and Senators, cited the incidents like the Dadri lynching, "nearly countrywide beef ban" and last year's protest against the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab to highlight the ongoing tensions in the country.

They noted that there have been an increase in the violence against Christians, Muslims and Sikhs and urged the prime minister to ensure religious minorities' fundamental rights are protected, and the "perpetrators of violence" are punished.

The "nearly countrywide beef ban" has increased tensions and encouraged vigilante violence against the Muslim community in India, the letter, released by Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, read. They stressed on the "treatment" of Christians and Sikhs, as well, and urged the Central government to "take steps to address the activities of groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)".

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