US faith watchdog puts India under Watch List for second time
Releasing its annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Thursday recommended that India along with countries such as Afghanistan, Belarus, Indonesia be put on Watch List for close monitoring of serious violations of religious freedom.
USCIRF placed India on its Watch List for the first time in 2009 when it condemned the government’s largely inadequate response in protecting religious minorities in the aftermath of the Kandhamal violence.
Prior to that, until the 2004 election of the Congress Party, India was placed under "countries of particular concern," or CPCs under which falls Burma, China, North Korea and Pakistan.
The bipartisan body in its latest report noted that "India’s progress in protecting and promoting religious freedom during the past year was mixed" and "justice for victims of communal violence was slow and often ineffective, thereby perpetuating a climate of impunity."
Among its numerous policy recommendations, USCIRF urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom and related human rights into all bilateral contacts with India, and for the US ambassador to India to speak out against, and seek to visit sites of, communal violence.
Each year, USCIRF delegations visit a number of foreign countries to examine the facts and circumstances on the ground for religious freedom. In the case of India, USCIRF says no visas were granted.
The federal government commission, appointed by the US President and the leadership of both political parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives, urged the US government to address the need for strengthening of law enforcement and judiciary in India.
It underlined the need for India to "strengthen the ability of the state and central police and other law enforcement bodies to provide effective measures to prohibit and punish cases of religious violence, and protect victims and witnesses."
In addition to that, it said the Indian government must ensure that the state and central police and other law enforcement agencies have the training and resources necessary to avert future communal violence. Also, they must be provided with training on human rights and religious freedom standards and practices.
Incidentally, in November 2009, USCIRF wrote to President Obama urging him to raise religious freedom concerns when meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The letter, while noting the stated commitment of the Prime Minister’s Congress Party to religious tolerance, called attention to the Indian government’s inadequate responses to violence against religious minority communities, including Christians in Orissa in 2008 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
Added: Friday, 30 April 2010, 17:46 (IST)
What a biased report. The USCIRF is pro-Christian and so obviously it will speak against Hindus and support Christians in India. Look at the panel in the Commission. All are evangelical Christians. If really it is a Commission it should have had people of all faith even Indians. The fact that there are no Indians makes us hardly believe any truth in this.
Ramesh, Andhra, India
Added: Friday, 30 April 2010, 21:40 (IST)
Ramesh, not all in the panel are Evangelical Christians. And for the record: Even Indians of Hindu background have served in the panel. To cite one would be the popular Preeta Bansal who was among the past commissioners in the panel.. India is totally ignorant of its minorities. It is only when countries like US or UK open their mouth that something is done. Look at the US..it is the most desired country to live due to the kind of care and concern their government has taken for all groups of people. We do have a lot to learn from them. Anyways, what has happened in India is very sad. Imagine over 300 churches being burnt and over 60,000 forced to live in forests. Try living in forest for a day so you get a perfect picture. Let the Indian government open its eyes and help the poor, persecuted and downtrodden.
Added: Saturday, 1 May 2010, 9:41 (IST)
Another anti-India piece. Those who feel India has failed to protect them can leave the country to Pakistan or Afghanistan. India belongs to Hindus. IT IS FANTASTIC THAT COMMISSION GOT NO VISA TO VISIT INDIA!!!!
Added: Saturday, 1 May 2010, 10:56 (IST)
the american commission has done a wonderful job speaking of the human right issues in India. what happened in kandhamal at all statements must be condemned. at least the government should ensure that the victims are compensated.
Mathew, Kerala, India
Added: Saturday, 1 May 2010, 11:49 (IST)
Oh please!! give me a break!! Hindu is a word of recent origin. It has not at all been mentioned in the Vedas or other authoritative scriptures. The word is not even Indian in origin. It is totally fallacious claim that India belongs to Hindus. The roots do not lead to Hindus. Therefore India will be India only when it maintains its pluralistic nature. This is the most distinctive feature of India among the rest of the countries! Nonetheless, we are not here to be hate-mongers. We can love each other and we can raise our voice for each other wherever and whenever there is injustice irrespective of any religion or faith.
Added: Saturday, 1 May 2010, 21:09 (IST)
The media in India has been silent about the persecution of Christians. The count for the number of innocent souls lost is unknown. It is a shame to India that US has to speak on our problems. Are we lacking people in the illiterate circle to address these?
Fr John, Delhi, India