United States Commission On International Religious Freedom
Places India on Tier 2 List Of Countries
By Shehzad Poonawalla
01 May, 2015
Reference to National Commission for Minorities about the Key Highlights of the 2015 Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)- an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, that makes a strong indictment of the Narendra Modi government on Minority issues.
Key Highlights of the 2015 Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)- an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, that makes a strong indictment of the Narendra Modi government on Minority issues.
1) India has been placed on its Tier 2 list of countries
2) "Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling BJP and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by groups such as RSS and VHP"
3) "Christian communities, across many denominations, report an increase of harrasment and violence in the last year, including physical violence, arson, desecration of churches and Bibles, and disruption of religious services.Perpetrators are often individuals and groups associated with RSS and VHP and operate with near impunity"
4) Mentions about 6 instances of Church attacks between December 2014 and February 2015.
5) Slams "Ghar wapsi" program carried out by groups in an attempt to convert 4000 Christian and 1000 Muslim families and attempt to raise funds by saying that it costs nearly Rs 2 lakhs per Christian and Rs 5 lakhs per Muslim!
6) "Members of RSS allegedly tricked dozens of Muslim families into attending a meeting by telling them they would be provided financial help, but instead performed a conversion ceremony; an investigation is underway"- Agra incident
7) Highlights President Obama's remarks on religious freedom issues during his visit in India and at the US National Prayer Breakfast urging India to not be 'splintered along the lines of religious faith.'
8) States that Modi's public statement for the first time that his government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith is notable given the longstanding allegation that as CM of Gujarat in 2002 , Mr Modi was 'complicit in anti-Muslim riots in the state.' Mentions about the revoking of his tourist visa by the State Department.
9) In its 2015 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked US President Barack Obama Administration to press the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory remarks about communities and to boost religious freedom standards in India.
10) The 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.
Although the Modi government has responded by stating that it "does not take cognisance of such reports", it is a fact that world over, the stifling of religious freedoms in India is becoming a debate and is reflecting badly upon us as a plural, liberal democracy. Hence, authorities including the courts, investigative agencies, statutory bodies like National Commission for Minorities and National Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Home Affairs must treat every case of religious atrocity and discrimination with seriousness so that no country or international agency can point fingers upon a vibrant democracy like ours. Mr.Modi's government must walk the talk on 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas'.
The NCM must discuss the said report and its contents and should insist that the Government of India take corrective steps
Lawyer activist and petitioner,
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