Religious persecution in India

THE grim situation of human rights in India has started pricking conscience of the international community and now more and more members of the civilized world are now highlighting the plight of those suffering at the hands of state apparatus and militant Hindu groups. The latest in joining the ranks of those expressing serious concern over plight of religious minorities is the US State Department, which showed its disappointment over refusal of the Indian Government in allowing a delegation of the US Commission on International Freedom to visit the country to have firsthand knowledge of trampling of human and fundamental rights in India.
This is for the third time that the delegation has been denied visas and the motives are quite understandable. India claims to be the biggest democracy and champion of secularism but its denial of access to the outside world clearly means it has something to hide. A member of the delegation that was to visit India last week said in an interview that there are large-scale reports of persecution of religious minorities, their killing and forced conversions. Places of worship including mosques and churches are burnt frequently and religious minorities are not allowed to perform their rituals. Radical Hinduism was already there in India but it has assumed serious dimensions during tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who himself is an extremist. Scores of Muslims have been killed by religious extremists on suspicion of keeping cow meat at home and Muslims are also being told to leave the country for Pakistan. In January this year, in its annual report, Human Rights Watch expressed concern over failure of the Indian Government to stop attacks against religious minorities and pointed out that many senior leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) publicly promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism at the expense of fundamental rights for all Indians. In April, Britain raised the issue of persecution of Christians and Sikhs with Modi during Commonwealth meeting in London in the backdrop of reports that India was now one of the most dangerous countries to practise Christianity. And only recently, the UN Human Rights Council documented details of what is happening with Kashmiris, urging the UN General Assembly and Security Council to take up the issue seriously. We hope that the international community would, besides expressing concern, raise the issue forcefully during bilateral meetings with Indian leadership and at multilateral forums.

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