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Press release

USCIRF Report for 2015 documents forced conversions of minorities to Hinduism, rising attacks on their places of worship and other restrictions on religious freedom

April 30, 2015

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos,  has welcomed the recommendations on India in the report released today by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and called on India to heed its recommendations. IAMC has also urged the US State Department to take cognizance of the report when issuing its own report on international religious freedom, and to act on USCIRF’s multiple recommendations on including religious freedom  concerns in bilateral talks with India.

Of particular significance is the fact that the USCIRF report again places India on the Tier 2 list of countries where religious freedom is at risk. India has been on this list every year since 2009.  The Chapter on India  in the report documents violence as well as the sharp increase in hate campaigns against religious minorities, including Christians, Muslims and Sikhs. It notes with concern the renewed calls for legislating on a national level, anti-conversion laws that have been used to restrict freedom of religion in some states. The report has also cited physical violence, arson, desecration of churches and attempts to forcibly “reconvert” thousands of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. It clearly points to Hindu supremacist forces for most of the religiously motivated violence and attacks on freedom of religion. “The perpetrators are often individuals and groups associated with the RSS and VHP and operate with near impunity,” the report stated.

“The USCIRF report represents international recognition of the growing attacks on minorities in India by Hindutva forces, including those that are part of the ruling dispensation,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC). “India remaining on USCIRF’s Tier 2 list of countries since 2009 is an unfortunate but inevitable fact, given the ground realities in India. Instead of taking steps to address concerns about religious minorities, the BJP administration’s sectarian and divisive agenda has only resulted in a worsening of India’s record on religious freedom. The international community is rightly concerned about India’s religious minorities, given the attacks have targeted them, their institutions and places of worship and their ability to practice their religions. In the case of Sikhs, Hindutva elements have even targeted the community’s right to self-identification as a distinct religious community,” added Mr. Malick.

Although India’s traditionally pluralist society has seen a decline in religious freedom in the last two decades due to the growing influence of the supremacist ideology of Hindutva, the deterioration since the movement’s political wing came to power last year has been dramatic. From programs known as “ghar wapsi,” intended to forcibly convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism, to hate campaigns calling for the disenfranchisement of Muslims and the forced sterilization of Christians and Muslims, the situation of minorities under the BJP rule has become precarious.

IAMC has urged the US government to accept the report’s recommendation to integrate concern for religious freedom in its bilateral talks with India. “We believe the report’s recommendation is best fulfilled through an inclusion of religious freedom and human rights in the US-India Strategic Dialogue,” stated Mr. Khalid Ansari, Vice-President of IAMC.

Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.   For more information please visit our website at: http://www.iamc.com

CONTACT:

Indian American Muslim Council

Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email:info@iamc.com 

Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295, Morton Grove, IL 60053.

REFERENCES: 
USCIRF Report 2015: Chapter on India
http://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/India%202015.pdfIndian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims
http://time.com/3819055/shiv-sena-india-saamana-editorial-muslim-voting-rights/Hindu Mahasabha leader calls for forcible sterilization of Christians and Muslims
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-impose-emergency-and-sterilise-muslims-christians-forcibly-says-hindu-mahasabha-leader-2076735

‘Reconversion’ of Religious Minorities Roils India’s Politics
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/world/asia/india-narendra-modi-hindu-conversions-missionaries.html

RSS body seeks donations to fund Christmas ‘conversions’ in Aligarh
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/RSS-body-seeks-donations-to-fund-Christmas-conversions-in-Aligarh/articleshow/45484672.cms

UN Official: India’s ‘Conversion’ Laws Threaten Religious Freedom
http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2014/03/10/un-official-indias-conversion-laws-threaten-religious-freedom/

Shocking: Plans to name flyover after Gandhi’s assassin
http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/alwar-flyover-was-about-to-named-after-nathuram-godse-47187.html

How India is assassinating Gandhi’s legacy

http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/01/187982/how-india-assassinating-gandhis-legacy

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Killing of five youth while they were handcuffed on their way to court in a police van warrants a judicial probe

April 09, 2015

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos ethos has called the Telangana police killing of five detainees in a transportation van, a fake encounter and a case of “custodial killing.” The five youth with alleged links to Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were being transported to a Hyderabad court for a hearing. Video footage of the police van given to Amnesty International by a journalist, shows five youth in the van after they were killed. All five were seen handcuffed in the video. The custodial killings are widely seen as revenge for two separate encounters in which fierce gun battles involving alleged members of SIMI with law enforcement in Telangana left four policemen dead.

“The killing of police personnel is condemnable in the strongest possible terms,” stated Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC. “However, the fact that the state chose to respond with the custodial killing of five handcuffed undertrials in a police van, should send alarm bells ringing for all who care about accountability and the rule of law,” added Mr. Malick.

In a separate incident, 20 suspected sandalwood smugglers were brutally gunned down by the police in Andhra Pradesh, prompting the National Human Rights Commission of India to call it a “serious violation of human rights.”

IAMC has echoed calls by Amnesty International and other civil liberties organizations in India for an independent probe into the Telangana killings. In a statement reported in the media, Abhirr V P, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India stated, “Impunity for extrajudicial executions is a serious issue in India. Authorities in Telangana need to urgently conduct an independent criminal investigation into the case to determine if it involved extrajudicial executions disguised as ‘encounter’ killings.”

One of the prisoners gunned down was Viqaruddin who had been framed by the police in the Mecca Masjid bomb blasts in 2007, and was among the 50 people that were later acknowledged as “wrongly arrested.”

This custodial killing is similar to several others that have taken place in recent years, such as Mohammed Qateel in 2012 and Khalid Mujahid in 2013, whose lives were cruelly snuffed out while in police custody or serving time in prison. During Mr. Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, there were several infamous cases of fake encounters involving victims from the Muslim community. Ishrat Jahan, a 19 year old girl from Mumbai was gunned down by the Gujarat police along with three other men in 2004. The encounter was carried out by disgraced Deputy Inspector General of Police D.G. Vanzara who was also implicated in the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2007.

Vanzara has been released from prison after the Hindu nationalist government of the BJP came to power. In a resignation letter while in prison, he had gone on record stating that fake encounter killings in Gujarat were carried out with full knowledge and sanction of the Gujarat state government, then headed by Mr. Modi as Chief Minister. Forty other policemen accused of fake encounters have been released in Gujarat alone, under the new administration.

Indian American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.

For more information, please visit http://www.iamc.com

CONTACT:
Indian American Muslim Council
Phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email:info@iamc.com
Facebook: Indian American Muslim Council Twitter: @IAMCouncil
Address: 6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295,
Morton Grove, IL 60053.

REFERENCES
1. Telangana must investigate alleged extrajudicial executions of five Muslims : Amnesty International
http://muslimmirror.com/eng/telangana-must-investigate-alleged-extrajudicial-executions-of-five-muslims-amnesty-international/
2. Telangana cops in soup after Viqaruddin, four others die in “encounter”
http://www.firstpost.com/india/telangana-cops-in-a-soup-after-viqaruddin-four-others-die-in-encounter-2189639.html
3. Another innocent Muslim accused in Burdwan Blast acquitted
http://www.siasat.com/english/news/another-innocent-muslim-accused-burdwan-blast-acquitted
4. Amit Shah acquitted in fake encounter cases
http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/gujarat-fake-encounter-cases-deadline-ends-today-cbi-may-not-file-plea-against-shahs-discharge/
5. Controversial Gujarat cop D.G. Vanzara leaves jail, says ‘Achhe Din’ are back
http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/former-gujarat-police-officer-dg-vanzara-walks-out-of-jail-740487
6. Sadiq encounter case: temporary bail to DySP Tarun Barot
http://zeenews.india.com/news/gujarat/sadiq-encounter-case-temporary-bail-to-dysp-tarun-barot_1560032.html
7. INDIA: Remedies to human rights violations a mirage, Asia Human Rights Commission, Feb 27, 2014
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/alrc-news/human-rights-council/hrc25/ALRC-CWS-25-14-2014

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Shocking reversals in the struggle for justice mark Gujarat pogroms anniversary

March 2, 2015

A season of “clean chits” for the guilty and hounding of activists since the coming to power of Hindu supremacists  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 28, 2015  The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has marked the 13th anniversary of the Gujarat pogroms of […]

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Case against Teesta a case of witch-hunt by Gujarat government say Indian Americans

February 20, 2015

Call for Independent investigation under Supreme Court’s supervision   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 18, 2015 Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has expressed strong support for noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and denounced the Gujarat Government for bringing frivolous charges motivated by political […]

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US concern over diminishing religious freedom in India is justified say Indian Americans

February 8, 2015

Attacks on churches, forced conversions to Hinduism and glorification of Gandhi’s assassin are manifestations of a divisive and hateful ideology   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sunday, Feb 08, 2015   The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has called President Obama’s expressions of concern over […]

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Indian Americans mark Republic Day with pledge to safeguard India’s Constitution

January 27, 2015

Letter draws President Obama’s attention to deteriorating situation with respect to religious freedom situation in India   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, January 26, 2015 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has marked India’s Republic Day with celebrations in four US cities, while pledging to […]

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IAMC Letter to President Obama on India visit

January 24, 2015

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Forced conversions in Agra and call for anti-conversion bill are brazen attacks on India’s Constitution say Indian Americans

December 14, 2014

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has condemned the forced conversion of Muslims in Agra as well as the government’s suggested “remedy”, of pushing the anti-conversion bill, currently adopted in five states across India, as brazen attacks on […]

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Burning of church in Delhi an attack on minorities say Indian Americans

December 5, 2014

Expressions of solidarity with Christians in India, condemnation of hate speech by BJP Minister Niranjan Jyoti   Washington D.C – Wednesday, December 03, 2014 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos,has condemned the burning of St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Delhi on December 1, 2014 as […]

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India’s 68th Independence Day – A time to renew communal harmony and safeguard secularism

August 15, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called on Indians across the world, to mark the occasion of India’s 68th Independence Day by finding ways to strengthen pluralism, and to renew communal harmony, in order to defeat the designs […]

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