Skip to main content

Ahead of Modi "takeover", top US body wants Obama govt to "engage" India on issues of religious freedom

By Our Representative
High profile annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), prepared by Dr Robert P. George with 10 others, wants While House to begin to “integrate concern for religious freedom into bilat­eral contacts with India, at both the federal and provincial level.” The report, prepared by the top US body, considered “independent federal advisor” which monitors religious freedom “abuses” abroad, has asked the Obama administration to “increase US embassy’s attention to issues of religious freedom and related human rights in India.”
Released just a fortnight ahead of Narendra Modi claiming to take over as India’s next Prime Minister, the report wants India to “boost” human rights and religious freedom standards, even as asking the Government of India to “press” states that have adopted anti-conversion laws to “repeal or amend them” to conform with “international human rights standards”.
The report refers to the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly’s approval of an amend­ment to the state’s 1968 anti-conversion law that would make the law more stringent, quite in line with the one prevailing in Gujarat. Though Madhya Pradesh’s gover­nor has not signed it into law, the amendment wants the converter and would-be convert to obtain state permission at least 30 days prior to a conversion ceremony, or face prison and fine.
The report suspects, things may change for worse as several other states have anti-conversion law -- Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajas­than and Odisha. “These laws have resulted in few arrests and no convictions, but have created a hostile atmosphere for religious minorities, particularly Christians”, the report states.
Dividing countries between Tier 1 and Tier 2 to identify “countries of particular concern (CRC)”, the report places India in Tier 2 – where the violations to religious freedom have been perpetrated or have been tolerated by governments. But, here, the violations are not as “systematic, ongoing and egregious” as in Tier 1 countries. Pakistan is in Tier 1 country in the company of Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam.
Robert P George, chairman, UNCIRF
Placed in Tier 2 in 2009, India has is in the company of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.
Wanting the US government to go more stringent on the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) in admitting “aliens” into the country, the report recalls the IRFA which denies visa to those “responsible for or directly carried out … par­ticularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
It underlines, “This provision has been invoked only once: in March 2005, it was used to exclude Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat state in India due to his complicity in riots in his state in 2002 that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 2,000 Muslims.”
“USCIRF had urged this denial of entry”, the report declares, adding, “USCIRF continues to urge the Departments of State and Homeland Security to develop a lookout list of aliens who are inadmissible to the United States on this basis, and USCIRF has provided information about several such individuals to the State Department.”
It insists, “USCIRF recommends that the visa ban for individu­als involved in particularly severe violations of religious freedom be used more expansively. USCIRF is only aware of the visa ban being used just once – against the State Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. USCIRF supported and called for this decision, but it is highly likely that other violators of religious freedom applied for a visa to the US over the past 15 years.”
Reflecting on communal strife in India, the report states, to “address the aftermath of the Gujarat violence of 2002 and the Odi­sha violence of 2007–2008, India established Fast-Track Courts, Special Investigative Teams, and independent commissions”. However, their “impact has been hindered by limited capacity to investigate and prosecute cases, an antiquated judiciary, inconsistent use, political corrup­tion, and religious bias.”
In this context, referring to how in 2013, a “lower court” in Gujarat found Modi not responsible for the death of Ehsan Jafri, Congress MP, who was burnt alive in 2002, the report states, “The case was brought by the leader’s widow, and she reportedly has appealed. Several other cases where Modi has been implicated for involvement or complicity in the 2002 violence continue.”
Even today, the report states, “A climate of impunity continues to exist in some Indian states, exacerbating the social and religious tensions among communities”. It gives details of the late August 2013 communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, where “between 40 and 60 people were killed” and “at least a dozen women and girls were raped, often by gangs” and “upwards of 50,000 were displaced to “relief camps.”
The report also regrets, “The Indian courts are still adjudicating cases stemming from large-scale Hindu-Christian communal violence in Odisha in 2007-08 and large-scale Hindu-Muslim communal violence in Gujarat in 2002. NGOs, religious leaders, and human rights activists allege religious bias and corruption in these investigations and adju­dications.”

Comments

Thanks for sharing about it, i was one who was least interested in politics but the day Modi has become PM of India i am always eager to know what he is doing and what is going on in world.

TRENDING

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue?

By Dankesh Oza*
The 115-year-old Gujarati Sahitya Parishad is in election mode. More than 3,000 life members of the Parishad are set to elect its 52nd president and 40 plus central working committee (CWC) members, which in turn will elect its executive and two vice presidents, six secretaries and a treasurer for the coming three years (from 2021 to 2023).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Atrocities against Dalits: Why don't MPs, MLAs from the community ever speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
In Gujarat, a young Dalit activist lawyer Devji Maheshwari, belonging to the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMSCEF) was killed in Surat, allegedly by a goon who was warning him against his Facebook posts not to speak up against Brahmanism. Facts have come to light suggesting there are other issues also which led to the murder, mostly related to land disputes, many a time ignored by activists.

Degrading conditions amidst Covid-19: Toxic ship at Alang, Gujarat, 'endangers' migrants

Counterview Desk
Evironmental activist Dr Gopal Krishna, who edits the ToxicsWatch journal, in an open letter to the chairman, Ship Breaking Scrap Committee, Union Ministry of Shipping, with copies to the joint secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and other Government of India ministries* has said that there exists “threat to Indian maritime environment and security from viral diseases like Covid-19 from ballast water and toxic substances.”

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”