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SOURCE: ANI

The US on Monday addressed a recently published news report describing the Muslim community in India and reaffirmed its commitment to promoting universal respect for freedom of religion. The US said that they are engaging with countries worldwide, including India, on this matter.

“We are deeply committed to promoting and protecting universal respect for the right to freedom of religion or belief of all around the world. We have engaged many countries including India on the importance of equal treatment for members of all religious communities,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a daily press briefing.

This statement follows a report by The New York Times titled “Strangers in Their Own Land: Being Muslim in Modi’s India,” which alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “chipped away at the secular framework and robust democracy” since taking office. The report also claimed that Muslim families in India grapple with anguish and isolation as they try to raise their children in a country that increasingly questions their very identity.

A recent report by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) stated that the share of the Muslim population in India increased from 9.84 per cent to 14.09 per cent between 1950 and 2015.

“The share of Muslim population in 1950 was 9.84 per cent and increased to 14.09 per cent in 2015 – a 43.15 per cent increase in their share,” the report said.

In the same period, the share of Hindu population in India decreased from 84.68 per cent to 78.06 per cent.

“The share of the majority Hindu population decreased by 7.82 per cent between 1950 and 2015 (from 84.68 per cent to 78.06 per cent),” the report said.

The report noted increases in the Christian, Sikh, and Buddhist populations, while the Jain and Parsi populations decreased.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent body constituted to advise on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also highlighted the report by the EAC-PM and claimed that the narrative that “minority is in danger” is false and has been exposed. He said that the perception that has been created is “proving to be a mistake.”

“Between 1950 and 2015, the number of Hindus in India has decreased by about 8 per cent, while that of minorities has increased by 43 per cent. The perception that has been created is proving to be a mistake. The wrong narrative is being exposed. Whatever meaning one has to take out of it, they can. I don’t want to bring out anything,” PM Modi said while speaking to Republic TV earlier this month.

“If this is factual, then the perceptions created as in that minority is being suppressed in India, there is no voice for the minority in India… all these narratives that are being created, all this allegation against India, please accept the truth and come out of this narrative,” he added.

The Ministry of External Affairs previously rejected a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “reinforcing discriminatory nationalist policies.” The Ministry called the organization “biased” and stated that it does not expect the organization to understand India’s diverse, pluralistic, and democratic ethos.

“The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is known as a biased organization with a political agenda. They continue to publish their propaganda on India masquerading as part of an annual report,” Randhir Jaiswal, an MEA official spokesperson had said at a press briefing.