WASHINGTON : The United States expects India to take action under Indian law against members of Parliament belonging to the extremist Hindu party Shiv Sena who force-fed a fasting Muslim in New Delhi.
“We are aware of the alleged reports and video, I think, of these MPs forcing a fasting Muslim to eat during Ramadan,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at the daily press briefing.
She was replying to a question when the incident about Shiv Sena MP Rajan Baburao Vichare forcefully feeding a Muslim was raised as an issue of human rights and religious freedom at the daily briefing.
“We, of course, would expect any allegation of this kind of assault would be dealt with under Indian law,” the spokesperson added.
Broadly speaking, Harf noted, “of course, religious freedom and human rights are pillars of our foreign policy, and call upon government officials at all levels to promote religious freedom and ensure accountability for all incidents that disrespect, violate or harm individual rights such as this one.”
Asked if religious freedom and human rights will be a subject of discussion when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Washington later this years, the spokesperson replied: “It’s certainly a topic we discuss all the time with various partners. I have absolutely no preview for what our discussions will look like during his visit.”
Shiv Sena has a history of inciting religious violence. It was blamed for inciting tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities during the 1993 Mumbai riots, in which about 900 people died.
The party was founded to keep south Indian migrants out of Maharashtra state and to halt the spread of Islam. It is currently the sixth largest in parliament with 18 seats and is an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.