BJP supporting fringe Hindu groups in violence on minorities, says US govt. report

By Raqib Hameed Naik,

New Delhi: In a major blow to India’s Secular image globally, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) annual report has categorized India as ‘Tier 2 country’ where religious violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are serious.

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The report says that religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in India in 2015.

The commission has blamed ‘Hindu nationalist groups’ for intimidation, harassment, and violence on minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs.

The commission has blamed members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of tacitly supporting the fringe Hindu groups and using religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions.

“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),” reads the USCIRF annual 2015 report.

“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 adds.

Emphasizing over the condition of Muslims in India, the report says, “The Muslim community in India reported increased harassment, violence, and targeted hate campaigns. Muslims often are accused of being terrorists; spying for Pakistan; forcibly kidnapping, converting, and marrying Hindu women; and disrespecting Hinduism by slaughtering cows.”

Citing examples of BJP parliamentarians Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj, the report accuses them for stoking religious tensions by claiming that Muslim population growth is an attempt to diminish the Hindu majority.

The report also alleges BJP of tactically supporting harassment and attack on Christians.

Labelling India on a negative trajectory in terms of religious freedom, USCIRF said that it will continue to monitor the situation closely during the year ahead to determine if India should be recommended to the U.S. State Department for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) for systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.