New Delhi, April 30: Slamming the Modi-led BJP government on the 'Ghar Vapasi' campaign and the violence against Christians, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has said that since the general election in 2014, the minority communities have badly been attacked.
As per a ET report, "In its annual report for 2015 released today, USCIRF said since the 2014 general election in India, religious minority communities have been subject to "derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)" and "numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups" such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP)."
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Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious leaders, including from the Muslim, Christian, and Sikh communities, attributed the initial increase to religiously-divisive campaigning in advance of the country's 2014 general election," USCIRF report said in a chapter on India as per the daily's report.
The panel has asked the Obama Administration to press the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory remarks about communities and to boost religious freedom standards in the pluralistic country.
The US Commission in its annual report urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral contacts with India, including the framework of future strategic dialogues, at both the federal and provincial level.
It also recommended to the Obama Administration to encourage the strengthening of the capacity of state and central police to implement effective measures to prohibit and punish cases of religious violence, and protect victims and witnesses.
The panel called upon the US government to increase the attention of the US Embassy in India to issues of religious freedom and related human rights, including through visits by the Ambassador and other officials to areas where communal and religiously-motivated violence has occurred or is likely to occur and meetings with religious communities, local governmental leaders and police.
"Encourage the establishment of a programme similar to the 'Safe Cities' programme of impartial government officials, interfaith religious leaders, human rights advocates, and legal experts to discuss and recommend actions to promote religious tolerance and understanding, and protect religious minorities from intimidation and violence," the panel said in its set of recommendations to the US government.
The USCIRF also recommended the Obama Administration to urge the Indian government to publicly rebuke government officials and religious leaders that make derogatory statements about religious communities. It asked the Obama Administration to urge India to boost training on human rights and religious freedom standards and practices for the police and judiciary, particularly in states and areas with a history or likelihood of religious and communal violence.
"Urge the central Indian government to press States that have adopted anti-conversion laws to repeal or amend them to conform with internationally-recognised human rights standards; make clear US opposition to laws that restrict freedom of thought and association," it said.
Placing India on its Tier 2 list of countries because of all the aforesaid concerns, the USCIRF also said that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement in mid-February in support of religious freedom was a positive development".
(With inputs from agencies)