The Indian society has no feeling of discrimination towards any religious minority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday.

When asked about the future of the nearly 20 crore Muslims in India, the prime minister skirted the question and instead spoke about the financial success of the Parsi community.

“Despite facing persecution elsewhere in the world, they have found a safe haven in India, living happily and prospering,” Modi told the Financial Times, describing the community as a “religious micro-minority residing in India”.

This came even as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in May recommended Washington DC to designate India as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating systematic violations of religious freedom.

The commission is an independent American government agency that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion and makes policy suggestions to the White House.

In its report, the commission had urged US President Joe Biden to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations” of religious freedom.

In the Financial Times interview, Modi also dismissed his government’s alleged crackdown on his critics.

“There is a whole ecosystem that is using the freedom available in our country to hurl these allegations at us every day, through editorials, TV channels, social media, videos, tweets, etc,” said Modi. “They have the right to do so. But others have an equal right to respond with facts.”

The prime minister has earlier also denied that minorities have faced discrimination under his government.

In June, while taking questions at a rare press conference with Biden at the White House, Modi said there is absolutely no space for discrimination in India.

At the press conference, a journalist pointed out that several human rights groups have accused the Modi government of discriminating against religious minorities and taking actions to silence its critics.

“What steps are you and your government willing to take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and to uphold free speech?” the journalist asked.

In response, Modi said that India has shown that democracy could deliver. “And when I say deliver, this is regardless of caste, creed, religion or gender,” the prime minister added.

A report released by Hindutva Watch in September stated that India witnessed 255 cases of hate speech against Muslims in gatherings in the first half of 2023.

Hindutva Watch is a Washington DC-based research group that monitors attacks on members of minority communities by Hindutva outfits.

According to the report, nearly 80% of these hate speech events took place in states and Union Territories governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party – the prime minister’s party.