NEW DELHI — Religious tolerance in India deteriorated in 2015, and religious freedoms of minorities were violated by Hindu nationalist groups, “tacitly supported” by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, according to a U.S. government agency which monitors religious freedom.
In it annual report, released on Monday, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said, “India is on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom.”
BJP President Amit Shah as well as lawmakers Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj are mentioned in the report — Shah for supporting anti-conversion laws, which are used to harass Christians, and the two other BJP leaders for fueling hate against Muslims.
The “independent and bipartisan” USCIRF was behind the U.S. government’s decision to revoke Narendra Modi’s tourist visa in 2005, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, alleging his complicity in the religious violence which ravaged the state in 2002.
Modi, now India’s Prime Minister, has been cleared off wrongdoing in connection with the Gujarat riots by Indian courts, and last year, a U.S. court also threw out a “genocide” case against Modi, upholding the U.S. government’s contention that he was entitled to immunity as a sitting head of government.
While the U.S. government has consistently made some noise over religious freedom, these concerns have not interfered with its plans to build a closer strategic relationship with India. Last week, the U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan invited Modi to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, when he visits in June.
Meanwhile, the USCIRF has said that it will monitor the situation in India over the next year and then determine whether it should be designated as a “country of particular concern.”
In its report, USCIRF highlighted attacks on religious freedoms of Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, restrictions on cow slaughter, anti-conversion laws, forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, and the failure to redress past large-scale violence.
In its recommendations, USCIRF urged the “Indian government to publicly rebuke government officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities.”
For More: http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/05/03/uscirf-religion_n_9826026.html?utm_hp_ref=india
Source: Islamic News Daily