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Religious leaders reject US report on religious freedom in India

New Delhi

The US in its 2023 report on International Religious Freedom on Wednesday, criticised India over religious freedom and also voiced alarm over rising bigotry against certain religious groups across the world.

Many religious leaders have also expressed strong reservations to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assertions that there was a concerning rise in hate speech and anti-conversion law in India.

Syed Naseeruddin Chishti, President of the All India Sufi Sajjadanashin Council and successor to the spiritual head of Ajmer Dargah denounced the report as “false, bogus, and fabricated”.

He asserted, as he said: “Our Constitution provides complete freedom to people of all religions. The government of India ensures that all kinds of religious faiths and its followers co-exist without any restrictions.”

Haji Syed Salman Chishtiy President of the Chishti Foundation of Ajmer, Rajasthan, dismissed the report, stating: “Opinions of other countries do not matter to us. Our Constitution, law and order, and infrastructure are capable of handling internal matters. Our Constitution protects all our rights and allows us to follow any religion of our choice.”

Nirmal Singh, President of the Central Singh Sabha Gurdwara, also criticised the report, claiming: “The American report is wrong. India is living in a golden age. Today, people of every religion are represented in the Parliament.”

“If America had raised this question in the 1980s or 1990s, I would have supported it. But today, festivals are celebrated grandly, and we also receive funding,” he added.

The National Coordinator of the Indian Sarva Dharma Parliament, Maharshi Bhrigu Peethadhishwar Goswami Sushil Maharaj, denounced the report and said: “India is the only country where everyone is safe, regardless of religion or community. I reject this report. Minorities are the safest in India, and this report is just an attempt to weaken the country.”

Labelling the report as “baseless and fabricated”, President of Takht Sri Patna Sahib Jagjot Singh Sohi echoed similar sentiments.

He said: “The minorities in India are safe and secure in India, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They (minorities) are getting equal opportunities, and they are flourishing in every sphere.”

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Wamik Warsi of Deva Sharif Dargah in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, also expressed his disapproval of US report.

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