Religious Freedom Violations in India Increased in 2015, says USCIRF

Published 03 May 2016  |
USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaking at the USCIRF event "Civil Society Efforts to Counter Religious Hatred and Bigotry in Europe," April 11, 2016.

Intolerance had "risen" in 2015 and religious freedom had "deteriorated" and religious freedom violations "increased" sharply, alleged U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2016 annual report.

The USCIRF has recommended that the Indian government should publickly rebuke ministers, officials and religious leaders that make derogatory remarks and statements against other religious groups and communities which it said had risen much throughout 2015.

The USCIRF which monitors religious freedom around the world said India should be recommended to the State Department for the U.S. government as a "country of particular concern," and USCIRF has been recommending the State Department on its policy towards other countries which should also be based on its treatment of religious minorities.

However, tt must be noted that the USCIRF reports are not binding on the State Department.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address joint session of the US Congress early next month, concerns could be raised with him when he visits the States.

The report said religious minority communities suffered an increasing harassment, intimidations, violence, etc.

"In 2015, religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India," the report said. "Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups," the report alleged.

The report alleged that that the ruling party members tacitly supported these violent groups and used religious divisive language to further inflame tensions in the country.

"These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies, have created a pervasive climate of impunity, where religious minority communities feel increasingly insecure, with no recourse when religiously-motivated crimes occur," the report alleged.

The report is much in agreement with the 2015 India Persecution Report tabled by Catholic Social Forum (CSF) earlier this year. The CSF report stated that the intolerance level had risen in 2015 and raised concerns over the government's silence or delay in denouncing such atrocities against religious minorities, especially those of Christians.

When USCIRF members tried to visit India, they were denied visas by the Indian government led by BJP; UPA government had done the same thing in the past.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.


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