US State Department’s Scathing Report On Persecution of Religious Minorities in India a step in the right direction, say Indian Americans
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2021, Washington, D.C.
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, today welcomed the US State Department’s report that represents a scathing and comprehensive account of religious persecution and violence faced by India’s 280 million religious minorities.
Released on Wednesday, May 12, the 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom, provided an in-depth coverage of massive rights violations faced by religious minorities, especially Muslims, Christians and Dalits or the “lower-caste” formerly known as untouchables.
The Department of State report highlighted the state-sponsored massacre of Muslims in India’s capital city, New Delhi, last year in which 53 people died and hundreds were injured, mostly Muslims.
“Witnesses accounts and video evidence showed police complicity in the violence,” the report noted while quoting Human Rights Watch. “Muslim academics, human rights activists, former police officers, and journalists alleged anti-Muslim bias in the investigation of riots by New Delhi Police,” the report said.
Over the hateful rhetoric during COVID-19 pandemic that targeted religious minorities especially the Islamic Tablighi Jamaat organization for spreading the coronavirus, the report mentioned the use of terms like “terrorism” and “Corona Jihad” by the members of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and some of the mainstream media outlets.
“There were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice and speak about their religious beliefs,” the report noted.
The report also highlights the specific examples of violations of civil liberties and religious freedom including the storming of mosque and killing of Muezzin (the person who gives call to prayers) in New Delhi by Hindutva mob during anti-CAA protests, murder of two Christians in custody of Tamil Nadu Police, inflammatory public remarks and social media posts by political party leaders, the intimidation of Muslim residents by police and the use of discriminatory cow slaughter laws to target minorities by the BJP government in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
“We welcome the US Department of State report and its affirmation of the unprecedented levels of persecution of India’s minorities under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).
“Over the last seven years, India has become one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedoms. We urge the State Department to accept the recommendations from the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom ((USCIRF) and designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) this year, however, any resulting sanctions must exclude Covid19 relief efforts and poverty alleviation policies” Mr. Ahmed added.
Last month, the USCIRF released its Annual International Religious Freedom report designating India as CPC for the second consecutive year. The report also urged the US government to impose sanctions on the officials and agencies responsible for violations of the religious freedoms.