Varghese K. George WASHINGTON:,
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with members of the Indian community at ‘Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath’ at Westminster, London on Wednesday.
The report says the Narendra Modi government has little to prevent violence against religious minorities and Dalits in India in 2017.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)’s annual report categorizes India as a Tier 2 country along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey. Tier 2 countries are defined as those that have at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” standard that the USCIRF uses to gauge violations of religious freedoms. Countries that can be characterized by all the three attributes are designated countries of particular concern. Ten countries including Pakistan are in that category this year.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, that reviews religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. India has not allowed a representative of USCIRF to visit the country for the purpose of these reports for several years now.
The report says the Narendra Modi government has little to prevent violence against religious minorities and Dalits in India in 2017. “At the federal level, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made statements decrying mob violence, but members of his own political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and many have used discriminatory language about religious minorities. Despite Indian government statistics indicating that communal violence has increased sharply over the past two years, the Modi Administration has not addressed the problem,” the report said.
Mr. Modi’s administration has done “little to provide justice for victims of large-scale past incidents of communal violence, often caused by inflammatory speeches delivered by leaders of Modi’s party,” the report says.
The report notes that “cow protection” lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims in 2017. “In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India. India’s history as a multicultural and multi-religious society remained threatened by an increasing exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion. During the year, Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “Saffronize” India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits. Both public and private actors pursued this effort. Approximately one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing,” the report says.