Religious Tolerance

Religious freedom and tolerance deteriorating in India, says United States panel report

The analysis accused the country’s police and judiciary of being biased and leaving minorities with ‘no recourse’ when they face communal violence.

A new report released on Wednesday has said that religious freedom and tolerance are under threat in India. The analysis by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom was based on violations of rights it found in 2016 and observations of contributing factors, such as national and state laws that restrict religious conversion and cow slaughter, among others.

The document noted that although Prime Minister Narendra Modi had publicly condemned religious intolerance, members of his Bharatiya Janata Party were connected with right-wing groups involved in communal violations. “Hindu nationalist groups – such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad – and their sympathisers perpetrated numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence against religious minority communities and Hindu Dalits,” the report said, adding that these violations were most “frequent and severe” in 10 of India’s 29 states.

The US panel also accused the Indian police and judiciary of being biased and flawed to “create a pervasive climate of impunity in which religious minorities feel increasingly insecure and have no recourse when religiously-motivated crimes occur”. The report has recommended that Washington express its concerns over the deteriorating state of religious freedom in India and also push the Indian government to take measures to counter the disturbing trend.

The independent panel, however, has used a map of India that marks sections of India-administered Kashmir as Pakistani territory, even though that is not the official US position on the dispute. The analysis, once again, categorised India under its Tier 2 section, which includes nations where the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious.

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