WASHINGTON - The United States has asked the Government of India to do “everything in its power” to protect its minorities, and bring to justice those responsible for the recent assault against two Muslim women for allegedly carrying beef in Madhya Pradesh, the State Department said Friday.

“We’re obviously concerned by reports of rising intolerance and violence... We urge the government (of India) to do everything in its power to protect citizens and to hold the perpetrators accountable,” the department's spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters at the daily press briefing.

The two Indian women were also arrested on suspicion of selling cow meat, which is banned in the state - although a preliminary test found the meat they were carrying came from a buffalo.

Responding to questions from a Pakistani television journalist about the increasing attacks by Hindu extremists against people eating beef, Kirby said, "We stand in solidarity with the people and Government of India in supporting exercise of freedom of religion and expression and in confronting all forms of intolerance.”

He said the US looks forward to continuing to work with the Indian people to realise their tolerant-inclusive vision, which is so deeply in the interest of both India and the US.

Separately, despite mounting evidence of mass atrocities by Indian security forces in Occupied Kashmir, the United States is refusing to go beyond mere expression of "concern" over the killing of more than 50 people while reiterating its call on “all sides” to make efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

“We encourage all sides to make efforts to find a peaceful solution to this,” John Kirby told reporters when a Pakistani journalist focused attention on the brutal tactics employed by Indian troops to put down peaceful protests.

“We have obviously seen reports of the clashes between protesters and Indian forces in Kashmir. And we’re, of course, concerned by the violence, as you might expect we would be,” he said.

Kirby said the United States was in close touch with the Indian government over the situation.

“But we’re obviously concerned by the violence and we want to see the tensions de-escalated,” Kirby added.

Protests across the Kashmir Valley were triggered by the killing of the Kashmiri youth leader, Burhan Wani, by Indian troop on July 9. In the ensuing clashes between protesters and security forces, more than 50 civilians have been killed and another 5,500 were injured.

About millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Kirby said that the United States recognises Pakistan’s genuine concerns and its right to undertake appropriate measures to enforce its immigration laws.

He said the US government was in close contact with the government of Pakistan as it manages a complex issue.

At the same time, Kirby said the US has encouraged and would continue to strongly encourage the Government of Pakistan to treat migrants in accordance with international humanitarian principles.