US body names BJP leaders for intolerance

US body names BJP leaders for intolerance

A United States government body has named senior BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah, while slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for deteriorating religious freedom in India.

New Delhi dismissed the report by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (or USCIRF), which noted that religious tolerance deteriorated and religious freedom violations increased in India in 2015. The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday issued a statement, saying that a foreign entity like the USCIRF had no “locus standi” to pronounce on the state of constitutionally protected rights of citizens of India.

The USCIRF annual report on international religious freedom came at a time, when New Delhi and Washington are preparing for Modi’s visit to the US early next month.

The prime minister is also likely to address a joint session of the US Congress, apart from meeting President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington DC.

The USCIRF report noted that minority communities in India had been subjected to derogatory comments by politicians belonging to the ruling party and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups since the BJP assumed power.

The report cited as an example the September 2015 lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq by a mob of nearly 1,000 people at Bisahra village in Uttar Pradesh. He was lynched for allegedly killing a cow. His son was seriously injured. “In 2015, high-ranking members of the ruling BJP party, including the party president Amit Shah, called for a nationwide anti-conversion law,” noted the USCIRF.

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