US Report Slammed Narendra Modi Government for Religious Intolerance in India

. 5/1/15

"Not a day goes by without at least one country from these lists appearing on the front page of a major newspaper.  Humanitarian crises fueled by waves of terror, intimidation and violence have engulfed an alarming number of countries over the past year,” said USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett.

As per the recent report (read this report) presented by the US Commission on International Religious freedom (USCIRF), Religious minorities in India are not safe and have been subjected to “violent attacks, forced conversions” and ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaigns by groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after the Narendra Modi government assumed power in 2014.

In its 2015 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) asked the Barack Obama Administration to take necessary action against the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory remarks about communities and to boost religious freedom standards in India.

USCIRF panel said that despite the country’s status as a pluralistic, secular democracy, India has long struggled to protect minority religious communities or provide justice when crimes occur, which perpetuates a climate of impunity. Incidents of religiously-motivated and communal violence reportedly have increased for three consecutive years, the panel said in its key findings. Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan tend to have the greatest number of religiously-motivated attacks and communal violence incidents against Religious Minorities.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders, including from the Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities, attributed the initial increase to religiously-divisive campaigning in advance of India’s 2014 general election. Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu extremist groups, such as RSS, Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (AVBP) and numerous small groups.

 USCIRF said Hindu groups in December 2014 announced plans to forcibly “reconvert” at least 4,000 Christian families and 1,000 Muslim families to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh on Christmas day as part of a so-called ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (returning home) program. “In advance of the program, the Hindu groups sought to raise money for their campaign, noting that it cost nearly Rs.2 lakh per Christian and Rs.5 lakh per Muslim. After both domestic and international criticism, the day was ‘postponed’ according to Mohan Bhagwat, an RSS leader”.

India sharply reacted on this report, Indian external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, "Our attention has been drawn to a report of the USCIRF which has passed judgment on religious freedom in India…the report appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its constitution and its society,” he said, asserting the government did not take cognizance of such reports.

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