The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has accused the Indian government of doing little to prevent violence against religious minorities and socially poor Dalit people.
The commission’s latest report, released on April 25, said the government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not addressed the problem of sectarian violence despite government statistics showing that sectarian violence has increased sharply over the past two years.
It categorized India in its Tier 2 countries along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.
Tier 2 countries are those with at least one of the elements of the “systematic, on-going and egregious” standard in a set of criteria the commission uses to gauge violations of religious freedom.
Ten countries including Pakistan are in the worst category.
The report noted that at least 10 Indians were lynched by Hindu groups in the name of cow protection.
“In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India. India’s history as a multicultural and multi-religious society remained threatened by an increasing exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion,” the report said.
Hindu nationalist groups working to turn India into a Hindu-only nation stepped up their actions through violence, intimidation and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalit people. Both public and private actors pursued this effort, the report said.
About one third of state governments enforced “anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing,” stated the report.
Even government records, presented on Feb. 6 in parliament, show increased sectarian violence. In 2017, 111 persons were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 communal clashes across the country.
In 2016, 86 persons were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents. In 2015, there were 751 incidents.