Religious Minorities in India Felt Increasingly Vulnerable in 2017, Says U.S. Report

Indian authorities “often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes" against people trading in or consuming beef, the U.S. state department said in its Annual Religious Freedom Report.


The U.S. state department, in its Annual Religious Freedom Report released on May 29, has said that members of civil society and religious minorities in India were concerned over minority communities feeling “increasingly vulnerable” due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against them and “their places of worship” in 2017, PTI reported. The report added that Indian authorities “often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims,” trading in or consuming beef.

The report, which looks at the state of religious freedom all over the world, was released by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It has quoted minority community representatives in India saying that “while the national government sometimes spoke out against incidents of violence, local political leaders often did not and sometimes made public remarks that individuals could interpret as condoning violence.”

The report also said that many long-standing legal cases involving religiously motivated violence and riots continued to move glacially through Indian court system. “The government continued its challenge to the minority status of Muslim educational institutions in the Supreme Court. Minority status afforded these institutions independence in hiring and curriculum decisions,” it said.

Citing published news accounts and commentary, the report observed that incidents of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize, were published. “There were several violent incidents by so-called ‘cow protection’ groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation. Authorities often failed to prosecute those committing the attacks,” it said.

The report pointed to figures compiled by local partners of the international non-governmental organization, Open Doors, which said that Christians were harassed, threatened, or attacked for their faith in 410 reported incidents in the first six months of 2017, compared with 441 incidents in all of 2016.

The report, which is published every year, excludes the United States, where President Donald Trump has been facing flak for the discriminatory policies against immigrants and travel ban on people from some Muslim-majority countries.

The United States plans to call a ministerial meeting on religious freedom on July 25 and 26, at which government and religious leaders, rights advocates, and members of the civil society from around the world would be present, Pompeo has said.

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