Religious freedom violations increased in India: US report
US Commission on International Religious Freedom in its report said, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is supporting Hindu-nationalist groups in fanning intolerance against minorities including Muslims and Christians.
According to the report, minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims and Sikhs faced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment and violence, mostly at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups.
“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,” said the report.
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, said the report.
During the past year, the Muslim community in India reported increased harassment, violence, and targeted hate campaigns.
Members of the BJP and RSS have stoked religious tensions by claiming that Muslim population growth is an attempt to diminish the Hindu majority. For example, high-ranking BJP parliamentarians, such as Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj, reportedly called for laws to control the Muslim population.
Christian communities, across many denominations, reported numerous, and increased, incidents of harassment and attacks in the last year, which they attribute to Hindu nationalist groups with the BJP’s tacit support.
In early 2016, an advocacy group reported that there were at least 365 major attacks on Christians and their institutions during 2015, compared to 120 in 2014; these incidents affected more than 8,000 Christians.
For example, in November 2015, Hindu nationalists severely beat 40 Christians worshipping in a private home in Telangana state, killing one woman’s unborn child. In February 2016, a mob of 35 people beat Father Jose Kannumkuzhy of the Ramanathapauram Syro-Malabar diocese and three lay church officials in Tamil Nadu state.
Reportedly, local police seldom provide protection, refuse to accept complaints, rarely investigate, and sometimes encourage Christians to move or hide their religion.