Skip to main content

Govt of India shouldn't use FCRA to target missionaries, human rights groups: USCIRF

Download report here
Counterview Desk
The just-released United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s (USCIRF’s) “2019 Annual Report” has said that India is one of the dozen-odd countries where USCIRF has found “deteriorating religious freedom conditions” as also “increased securitization and politicization of religion.” In India, it adds, “It is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities.”
Pushed into Tier 2 as a result of this "deterioration", India is now in the company of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey”, the report says.
The report, significantly, recalls that the Individual Violators Section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which “makes inadmissible to the United States foreign officials who are responsible for or directly carried out particularly severe religious freedom violations”, was applied on Narendra Modi before he became Prime Minister.
It says, “To date, the provision’s only publicly known use was in 2005, when then Chief Minister Narendra Modi of Gujarat State in India was excluded due to his complicity in 2002 riots in his state that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,100 to 2,000 Muslims.”

Key findings

In 2018, religious freedom conditions in India continued a downward trend. India has a long history as a secular democracy where religious communities of every faith have thrived. The constitution guarantees the right to religious freedom, and the nation’s independent judiciary has often provided essential protections to religious minority communities through its jurisprudence.
Yet, this history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narratives—including, at times, the government’s allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities—that have facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities. Both public and private actors have engaged in this campaign.
In 2018, approximately one-third of state governments increasingly enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws discriminatorily against non-Hindus and Dalits alike. Further, cow protection mobs engaged in violence predominantly targeting Muslims and Dalits, some of whom have been legally involved in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations.
Mob violence was also carried out against Christians under accusations of forced or induced religious conversion. In cases involving mobs killing an individual based on false accusations of cow slaughter or forced conversion, police investigations and prosecutions often were not adequately pursued. Rules on the registration of foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were discriminatorily implemented against religious minority groups.
Religious freedom conditions varied dramatically from state to state, with some states continuing to be relatively open and free for religious minorities, while others—if taken on their own—had “systematic, ongoing, egregious” violations of religious freedom. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India highlighted the deteriorating conditions for religious freedom in some states, concluding that certain state governments were not doing enough to stop violence against religious minorities and, in some extreme instances, impunity was being granted to criminals engaged in communal violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi seldom made statements decrying mob violence, and certain members of his political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and used inflammatory language about religious minorities publicly. Victims of largescale attacks in recent years have not been granted justice, and reports of new crimes committed against religious minorities were not adequately accounted for or prosecuted.
India’s substantial population both complicates and limits the ability of national and state institutions to address these issues. Based on these concerns, in 2019 USCIRF again places India on its Tier 2 for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
While the Indian government repeatedly has denied USCIRF access to India, the Commission welcomes the opportunity to openly and candidly engage with the government—including the chance for a USCIRF delegation to visit India—to discuss shared values and interests, including international standards of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights.

Recommendations to the U.S. government

>> Press the Indian government to allow a USCIRF delegation to visit the country and meet with stakeholders to evaluate conditions for freedom of religion or belief in India;
>> Work with the Indian government to create a multiyear strategy to ebb the flow of hate crimes targeting religious minorities, including by:
  • Pressing state governments to prosecute religious leaders, government officials, and media personalities who incite violence against religious minority groups through public speeches or articles, as was recommended by the National Minorities Ministry in July 2014;
  • Strengthening the training and capacity of state and central police to prevent and punish cases of religious violence, while also protecting victims, witnesses, and houses of worship and other holy sites; 
  • Encouraging passage of the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to establish national and state human rights commissions and human rights courts; and 
  • Assisting the Ministry of Law and Justice to work with state prosecutors to increase the rate of prosecutions for hate crimes and online hate speech targeting religious minorities; 
>> Increase the U.S. Embassy’s focus on religious freedom and related human rights through continued visits to regions impacted by religiously motivated violence and dialogue with religious communities, local governmental leaders, and police; and
>> Advocate for the Indian central government to ensure that the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is not used discriminatorily to target international missionary and human rights groups, and to press states with anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws to do the same.
---
Click HERE India section of the report, and HERE for the full report

Comments

Anonymous said…
Is it fair to use money to promote reigion?. The answer is No. Religion is not an industry that needs FDI. Nor is it a poverty alleviation tool as changing religions cannot alleviate poverty. Please leave India alone. Indian Christians and Muslims dont believe hindu gods are devils or satans. The are first Indians irrespective of relgion. No one has to convert to a christianity to love jesus christ or follow his teachings. Conversion creates social problems because each religion has their own social laws right from inheritance to marriage and this is causing tension. DONT USE MONEY TO PROMOTE RELGION. Jesus Christ's followers did not follow him for money. India has at least 1000 popular gods. And jesus christ is one of them. Love of jesus christ need not have to mean hate of 999 other gods. Religion are different, god is one.
Mayank Patel said…
USCIRF is not a #humanrights group. It is a commission created as per #religiousfreedom law. This law was passed under christian missionary pressure. In USA, Most humanrights, civilrights & gayrights group like ACLU oppose Rel Freedom laws. Learn more:- https://t.co/kdNhRbLOkL https://t.co/AhOtUWEEcY

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Lynching as state terror? Complete dearth of 'political will' to deal with mob violence

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Friday July 5, thousands of people had gathered at a rally in Surat to protest against the growing mob lynching incidents in different parts of the country. There are different interpretations at what happened during the rally: with police blaming the rallyists and those in the rally blaming the police for using teargas shells upon them without any reason.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.