The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that India was a robust and vibrant democracy and it did not require a certificate from others.

The response came after former Vice President Hamid Ansari and four American lawmakers expressed concerns about the human rights situation in India during a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday. The event was organised by the Indian American Muslim Council.

“We have seen reports on this event,” ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters. “The claim that others need to protect our Constitution is presumptuous and preposterous.”

Bagchi claimed that the the event organiser’s track record was well-known, along with the “biases and political interests” of the participants.

During Wednesday’s event, Ansari had expressed his concern about the rising trend of Hindu nationalism in India, reported PTI.

“In recent years, we have experienced the emergence of trends and practices that dispute the well-established principle of civic nationalism and interposes a new and imaginary practice of cultural nationalism,” Ansari had said during the event.

“It wants to distinguish citizens on the basis of their faith, give vent to intolerance, insinuate otherness, and promote disquiet and insecurity,” he had added.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey, Jim McGovern, Andy Levin and Jamie Raskin had also raised concerns about the human rights situation in India under the Narendra Modi-led government.

“There have been a lot of problems with the issue of religious authoritarianism and discrimination taking place in India,” Raskin had said, according to a press release issued by the Indian American Muslim Council.

McGovern said that India is “alarmingly backsliding” on human rights and listed several warning signs.

“For the first time in 2019, a law was passed that links citizenship to religious identity,” McGovern had said during the event. “There is every reason to fear that this change combined with the proposal for a National Register of Citizens institutionalises discrimination against Muslims”

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.

Critics fear that the CAA when used in conjunction with the National Register of Citizens, a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented immigrants, will allow the government to force many Muslims to prove their citizenship. The government and its supporters have insisted that the CAA and the NRC are not linked.

India has rejected criticism by foreign governments and human rights groups on allegations that civil liberties have eroded in the country.

In October, the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights had cautioned India against targeting religious minorities in the country, particularly Muslims. It had urged the Narendra Modi government to meet its pledge to promote and protect human rights.

In September, the Human Rights Watch had accused the Indian authorities of using politically motivated allegations of tax evasion and financial irregularities to “silence human rights activists, journalists, and other critics of the government”.