Retiring official says intolerance growing in India

NEW DELHI (AP) — A top retiring Indian official has embarrassed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government by saying that Muslims are feeling insecure after attacks on them by Hindu hardliners on suspicion that they were killing cows considered holy by majority Hindus.

In an interview Thursday with state-run Rajya Sabha television channel, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said intolerance was growing in India, with Hindu hardliners questioning the nationalism of Muslims who comprise nearly 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion people.

Ansari, a Muslim, ended his second five-year term as India's vice-president, a ceremonial position, on Thursday.

Modi has rarely spoken about the issue, leading rights activists to accuse his Hindu nationalist government of tacitly supporting the attacks. He recently said he felt enraged by those masquerading as cow protectors to commit crimes.