Attacks on minorities in India, including killings, assaults and intimidation, took place throughout last year, said the United States Department of State’s Report on International Religious Freedom for 2021, released on Thursday.
The report listed scores of incidents of violence against minorities including incidents of cow vigilantism, attacks on religious places and properties owned by Muslims and anti-conversion laws in several states of India.
While releasing the report, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, noted the “rising attacks on people and places of worship” in India.
Ambassador-At-Large For International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain said that some officials in India were “ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship”.
What does the report say?
The section on India in the report said that attacks on minorities included incidents of vigilantism against non-Hindus based on allegations of cow slaughter or selling or possessing beef.
The report said that ten out of 28 states in the country have laws restricting religious conversions.
“Four state governments have laws imposing penalties against so-called forced religious conversions for the purpose of marriage although some state high courts have dismissed cases charged under this law,” it noted.
The report took note of an incident on September 26, when a 14-year-old Christian boy from Bihar’s Gaya district died after some persons allegedly threw acid on him. The report also referred to allegations by two Muslim men in Jamshedpur that the police on August 26 forced them to strip naked and beat them up during an interrogation.
“According to a media report, no action was taken against the accused police officers by year’s end,” the report said.
The Department of State also said that alleged militants in Jammu and Kashmir killed civilians from Hindu and Sikh minorities, leading to “widespread fear” among the communities.
It took note of reports of properties owned by Muslims, including mosques, shops and houses, having been damaged in attacks by Hindu nationalist groups.
The report made mention of incidents of hate speech against minorities, including at a conclave at Uttarakhand’s Haridwar city in December, where Hindu supremacist seer Yati Narsinghanand urged Hindus to take up weapons against Muslims.
It also referred to a statement made by Muslim cleric Abbas Siddiqui on October 15 calling for beheading of those who insult the Quran.
In April, the US Department of State had noted that Muslims in India are vulnerable to communal violence and discrimination. The state department made the observation on the chapter on India in its “2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.
The report had mentioned discrimination against minorities in India, extrajudicial killings, degrading treatment or punishment by the police and prison officials and arbitrary arrests and detentions by government authorities among other concerns.