The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group committed to preserving and promoting India’s secular and tolerant values, today welcomed the comprehensive and systematic reporting on Indian minorities by the office of International Religious Freedom, United States Dept. of State, in its 2019 report released on June 10. The report has provided an in-depth coverage and analysis of challenges faced by religious minorities, especially Muslims, Christians and lower caste Hindus (Dalit) in India.
The State Department has highlighted rampant religiously motivated killings, assaults, discrimination, and vandalism. In addition it has referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs data, which reports 7,484 incidents of communal violence during 2008-2017 in which more than 1,100 people were killed. “We welcome the State Department report and its affirmation of what is widely known about unprecedented levels of persecution of India’s minorities,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.
“However, the report can make a meaningful difference only if it is followed by definitive action on the part of the US government in holding the present administration in India accountable for escalating levels of violence and hate targeting Muslims and Dalits,” added Mr. Khan.
The report cites specific examples of horrific lynchings of Muslims, Christians and Dalits. “While the lynchings are atrocious in and of themselves, what should alarm and galvanize the international community to action is the continuing incendiary rhetoric that is now part of mainstream discourse,” said Mr. Syed Afzal Ali, Vice President of IAMC.
“The environment of hate and violence it has created lends support to the perpetrators and explains why the vicious cycle of violence and social boycott continues to get worse,” added Mr. Ali. The report emphasizes the urgent need to put an end to the sectarian hate, and ensure full protection of minorities as guaranteed under the Indian constitution.
It also notes with concern that 9 of the 28 states have laws restricting religious conversion, which does not comply with the secular character of India. The Indian Parliament’s passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has rightly come in for heavy criticism by the State Department.
The CAA which amends the 1955 Citizenship Act to provide an expedited path to Indian citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who had entered India on or before December 31, 2014, while similarly-situated Muslims, Jews, atheists from these three countries were excluded.
The report recognized use of excessive force by police against protesters, particularly against Muslim university students in the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi. It also highlights that CAA was part of an ongoing BJP effort to marginalize Muslim communities and does not rule out sinister designs of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah.
The revocation of Article 370 and continuing violations of human rights in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, open legal and social biases against the minorities, and brutal clamp down on peaceful civil dissent, have all rightfully been highlighted in the report.
It is noteworthy that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and another RSS affiliate called Hindu Maha Sabha have been named as being among the proponents of hate crimes against minorities.