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Press Statement on the intention of a US official to visit India in relation to a US State Department Report

September 11, 1999
New Delhi

Government has seen press reports about the intention of a US official to visit in the context of the release of an internal report by the US State Department on the religious freedoms in different countries. Government of India has no plans or intentions to invite such an official to India or to engage in discussion with any foreign government or agency on these matters.

The Indian Constitution guarantees absolute religious freedom to the citizens of the country reflecting the well-known social traditions of tolerance and respect for all religion. Together these elements provide a strong framework for a secular and democratic polity in a country rich in cultural, lingual and ethnic diversities. These rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and justiciable in accordance with the laws of the land. They are also protected by the judiciary and effectively enforced by the executive authorities.

The Government and people of India reject any intrusive exercise into how we conduct our affairs. Those who concern themselves with monitoring religious freedom would be well advised to focus their effort on countries which remain under the pall of bigotry and intolerance, where religious minorities are discriminated against by law and their freedoms progressively curtailed.