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ICC Note:

Recently, India has claimed to be a secular state with no state religion speaking at the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group at the UNHCR. While formally this statement is true, religious minorities in India, including Christians and Muslims, would have a difficult time agreeing with this statement. Religious intolerance and attacks on religious minorities and their places of worship have dramatically increased since the BJP-led government took power in 2014. Confessed Hindu nationalists, the BJP-led government has done little to confront the growing operations of Hindu radical groups across the country with members of its own ruling party actively participating in the spread of hate and fear against religious minorities. 

05/05/2017 India (The Indian Express) – India on Thursday said it is a secular state with no state religion and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of its polity, as it came under criticism from Pakistan over treatment of minorities. Speaking at the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group at the UNHCR in Geneva, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the Indian Constitution enshrines various provisions for the protection of the rights and interest of the minorities.

Rohatgi, who led the Indian delegation at the UN Human Rights Council, said India makes no distinction between caste, creed, color or religion of a citizen. “India is a secular state with no state religion,” he said, adding that the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of religion to every individual. He said the right to free speech and expression occupies its rightful place in the core of the Indian Constitution.

“As the world’s largest multi-layered democracy, we fully recognize the importance of free speech and expression. Our people are conscious of their political freedoms and exercise their choices at every opportunity,” Rohatgi told the member states. The Pakistan delegation raked up the Kashmir issue and demanded a ban on the use of pellet guns by Indian security forces. It also asked India to allow a UNHRC fact-finding team to visit Kashmir and review the situation.

It also raised the issue of “mob violence” against the minorities Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits in India. “We believe in peace, non-violence and upholding human dignity. As such, the concept of torture is completely alien to our culture and it has no place in the governance of the nation,” the Indian delegate said.

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