Religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime, a report by an independent bipartisan American body has claimed.
The report, titled ‘Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India’ and sponsored by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said the religious minority communities and Dalits face discrimination and persecution in India where hate crimes, social boycotts and forced conversion have escalated dramatically since 2014.
“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,” said the report.
“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,” it said.
WHAT THE USCIRF-SPONSORED REPORT STATES
The USCIRF-sponsored report is written by Iqtidat Karamat Cheema, who is director for UK-based Institute for Leadership and Community Development. The report further says there are constitutional provisions and state and national laws in India that do not comply with international standards of freedom of religion or belief, including Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The report suggested that the US government should put religious freedom and human rights at the heart of all trade, aid and diplomatic interactions with India.
“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,” said USCIRF chair Thomas J. Reese.