Religious freedom: India on US 'watch list'

In a report to the US Congress, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) termed India’s progress in protecting the rights of minorities as mixed and placed it on the second category watch list. While not rising to the statutory level under US law requiring designation as a “country of particular concern”, watch list countries require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the governments, the report said.

The Indian government at various levels recognised the problem of communal violence and created some structures to address these issues, it said.  “However, justice for victims of communal violence was slow and often ineffective. While there was no large-scale communal violence against religious minorities during the reporting period, attacks on Christians and Muslims and their places of worship continued, along with incidences of intolerance against both.”

The USCIRF, which was denied visas by India to have a spot assessment of the ground realities for the second consecutive year, urged “the US to integrate concern for religious freedom and related human rights into all bilateral contacts with India, and for US ambassador to India to speak out against communal violence”.

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