DipanjanRoy Chaudhury

US COMMISSION FOR INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ANNUAL REPORT 2016Commission advises the US govt to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral contacts with India, including future strategic dialogues

Religious freedom in India was on a “negative trajectory“ in 2015 as religious tolerance “deteriorated“ and religious freedom violations “increased“, alleged US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2016 annual report.The USCIRF suggested that the Indian government publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities.

Pointing out that it will continue to monitor the situation closely during 2016 to understand if India should be recommended to the State Department for designation as a “country of particular concern,“ USCIRF advised the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral contacts with India, in cluding the framework of future Strategic Dialogues.

USCIRF reports are not binding on the State Department. Interestingly the report comes a little more than a month before PM Narendra Modi‘s bilateral visit to Washington where he is also scheduled to address joint session of the US Congress.

“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.

USCIRF alleged that members of the ruling BJP tacitly supported these groups and used religiouslydivisive language to further inflame tensions.

“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.

Earlier this year members of USCIRF was denied visas by the Indian government as was done by the UPA regime in the past. In terestingly though Katrina Lan tos Swett, a commissioner at the USCIRF visited Dha ramshala last week to at tend a meet of Chinese dissidents. 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.

Apart from USCIRF, US Cong-funded USIP Also Organised Meet in Dharamsala

IT was not just United States Commission of International Religious Freedom whose representative was present in Dharmashala last week for a meet of anti-Beijing dissidents, US Congress-funded US Institute of Peace (USIP) also organized a meeting between Dalai Lama and youth from 14-violence hit countries across Asia and Africa in the same town. The spiritual leader was the common factor in both the conferences held away from the public glare and media lenses. While the first meet was the initiative of Citizen Power for China, USIP brought youth from 14-violence affected countries to hold talks with Dalai.