At UNHRC, India says it is a ‘secular state with no state religion’
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Geneva: 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 UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 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 UNHRC, said India makes no distinction between caste, creed, colour 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 charter. “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.