Attacks on religious minorities in India occurred throughout last year, religious freedom report finds | World News

Attacks on religious minorities in India, including killings and assaults, occurred throughout last year, a US report on religious freedom around the globe has found.

Some officials in the officially secular Asian nation have ignored or even supported rising attacks on people and places of worship, a US official said on Thursday.

The report said the attacks included cow vigilantism – attacks on non-Hindus for allegedly slaughtering cows or trading in beef.

Most Hindus, who account for around 80% of India’s 1.35 billion people, consider cows sacred and many states ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party have enacted laws or toughened old ones against slaughtering cows.

Meanwhile Muslims make up around 13% of India’s population.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the rights of religious minorities around the world were under threat.

“For example, in India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we’ve seen rising attacks on people and places of worship,” Mr Blinken said.

Rashad Hussain, who leads the US State Department’s efforts to monitor religious freedom around the world, said some
Indian officials were “ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship”.

Sky News has contacted India’s foreign ministry for comment. It has previously contested any external commentary on internal affairs – especially from the US.

It comes after a local court last month began hearing a petition filed by a group of Hindus that seeks access to pray inside the Gyanvapi mosque compound.

The petition argued the mosque was built atop the ruins of a medieval-era temple that was razed by a Mughal emperor and the petitioners say the complex still houses Hindu idols and motifs, a claim contested by the mosque’s authorities.

Earlier this year, a ban on wearing hijabs in classrooms in the state of Karnataka – which had sparked protests by Muslim students and parents as well as counter-protests by Hindu students – was upheld in court.

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