Wednesday, June 19, 2024

US report highlights ‘continued targeted attacks’ on minorities in India

The United States State Department on Monday released its annual report on religious freedom which listed attacks against religious minorities including Muslims and Christians in India.

The State Department report, based on direct research as well as accounts by media and advocacy groups, pointed to concerns about home demolitions against Muslims and public flogging by police of Muslims in Gujarat, PM Narendra Modi’s home state.

The USCIRF, in its annual report, said the Indian government “at the national, state and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies” in 2022. Those included “laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, the wearing of hijabs [headscarves] and cow slaughter”.

The USCIRF said the US State Department should designate India as a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom because of “systematic, ongoing [and] egregious violations” of religious freedom in the world’s most populous nation.

The US wants India to condemn persistent religious violence, said a senior government official, a month before a state visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A senior US official, briefing journalists on the report on condition of anonymity, spoke of India’s “vast potential” and said he was “saddened” by the “continued targeted attacks” on the country’s religious minorities.

“Regarding these concerns, we are continuing to encourage the government to condemn violence and hold accountable [those] who engage in rhetoric that is dehumanising towards religious minorities,” the official said.

Among the concerns the senior official noted was “open calls for genocide against Muslims, lynching and other hate-fuelled violence, attacks on places of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who have engaged in attacks on religious minorities”.

He also promised to speak “directly” with Indian officials and said: “We will continue to work very closely with our civil society colleagues on the ground [and] with courageous journalists that are working every day to document some of these abuses.”

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