USCIRF report reveals major increase in religious intolerance in India
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In the recent report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) it has been revealed that the religious minorities and the Dalits in India are treated below the belt, oppressed and face persecution, as the hate crimes and forced conversion have drastically increased by the dominant Hindus since 2004.
According to the report:
“Under Congress Party and BJP-led governments, religious minority communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency. In particular, since 2014, hate crimes, social boycotts, assaults, and forced conversion have escalated dramatically.”
It is also added in the report that since the BJP assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad.
In the USCIRF-sponsored report, prepared by director of Institute for Leadership and Community Development based in UK, Iqtidat Karamat Cheema, it is also pointed out that the national and state laws, and other constitutional provisions are not in accordance with the international standards of freedom of religion that also includes Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The USCIRF chair Thomas J. Reese said “India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a Constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination. However, the reality is far different… India’s pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges in a number of its states.”
“During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India. To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align theirs laws with both the country’s constitutional commitments and international human rights standards,” he said.
“Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Jains generally are fearful of what the future portends. Dalits also are increasingly being attacked and harassed”.
It further added, “The Indian government-at both the national and state levels-often ignores its constitutional commitments to protect the rights of religious minorities. National and state laws are used to violate the religious freedom of minority communities; however, very little is known about the laws.”
The report stressed on the need to lift sanctions against non-governmental organizations that aim at working for the welfare and well being of the minorities in India and ban all Hindutva groups running campaigns against the minorities and raising funds from US citizens.
“Identify Hindutva groups that raise funds from US citizens and support hate campaigns in India. Such groups should be banned from operating in the United States if they are found to spread hatred against religious minorities in India,” it said.
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