India hits back, says US using international ties for ‘vote-bank politics’ | India News

NEW DELHI: Unable perhaps to take anymore what it sees as frequent pinpricks from the US on issues related to human rights and religious freedom in India, the Centre on Friday attacked the Biden administration for using international relations to carry out “vote bank politics”.
In a strongly worded response to remarks by secretary of state Antony Blinken and other officials on Thursday about attacks “on people in places of places of worship” in India, the Centre also weaved in the issue of gun violence — a veritable hot potato in the US currently — saying this has been regularly highlighted by Indian authorities in discussions with the US along with hate crimes like racially and ethnically motivated attacks.
Blinken had on Thursday released the State Department 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom. Speaking on the occasion, Biden had said India was seeing increasing attacks on places of worship. India is particularly upset about the remark by US ambassador at large for religious freedom Rashad Hussain’s remark that Indian officials were ignoring if not supporting such attacks.
The MEA said in response it had noted the release of the report and “ill informed comments by senior US officials”.
“It is unfortunate that vote bank politics is being practiced in international relations. We would urge that assessments based on motivated inputs and biased views be avoided,” said spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
The government didn’t clarify what it meant by vote bank politics but sources suggested the US administration was perhaps looking to pander to the sentiments of some faith leaders in the US.
“As a naturally pluralistic society, India values religious freedom and human rights. In our discussions with the US, we have regularly highlighted issues of concern there, including racially and ethnically motivated attacks, hate crimes and gun violence,” he added.
The latest annual report on international religious freedom alleged that attacks on members of the minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation, took place in India throughout 2021.
The report claimed that attacks on members of religious minority communities, including killings, assaults, and intimidation occurred throughout the year. “These included incidents of cow vigilantism’ against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or trade in beef,” said the India section of the report.
Blinken had said in April, standing alongside his counterpart S Jaishankar in Washington, said the US was monitoring some recent “concerning developments” on human rights violations in India by some government, police, and prison officials. “We share a commitment to our democratic values, such as protecting human rights. We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values,” Blinken had said.
The Indian government continues to maintain India has well-established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.

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