Religious freedom becomes worse for wear in India: US Commission on International Religious Freedom

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Religious Freedom is worsening in India, a new report compiled by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom states. In line with a latest report by the United States Commission religious intolerance is mounting alarmingly in India. The religious minorities especially Christians along with Muslims and Sikhs are facing intimidation, persecution and violence, mostly at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups.

Religious intolerance in India

“Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions. These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies, have created a pervasive climate of impunity, where religious minority communities feel increasingly insecure, with no recourse when religiously-motivated crimes occur,” the report stated.

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“Minority religious leaders and laity, including from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities, and non-government organizations (NGOs), attribute India’s recent decline in religious freedom and communal harmony to religiously-divisive campaigning in advance of the country’s 2014 general election and the BJP’s victory in that election. Since the BJP assumed power, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by BJP politicians and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by affiliated Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)”

The report highlighted the anti-conversions laws issue stating: “Six Indian states – Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Arunanchal Pradesh, and Odisha – have so-called “Freedom of Religion Act(s),” commonly referred to as anti-conversion laws. Rajasthan state’s parliament also passed an anti-conversion bill, but it was never signed by the state’s Chief Minister. These laws, based on concerns about unethical conversion tactics, generally require government officials to assess the legality of conversions out of Hinduism only, and provide for fines and imprisonment for anyone who uses force, fraud, or “inducement” to convert another.”