India rejects US religious intolerance report

Indian government rejects US report claiming link between 2014 elections and spike in attacks on religious minorities

Updated Jul 28, 2015

India has criticised US congressional panel claim that minorities in the country have been subjected to "violent attacks" after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP came to power.

The report said since the 2014 elections, religious minority communities in India have been "subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling BJP" as well as "numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups."

The foreign ministry said the panel report "appears to be based on limited understanding of India."

The report, which devotes a section to "Hindu Nationalist Groups and Forced Conversions", said Hindu groups had announced plans in December to forcibly "reconvert" at least 4,000 Christian families and 1,000 Muslim families to Hinduism in Uttar Pradesh as part of a so-called 'ghar wapsi' (homecoming) programme.

The anti-conversion law, passed by some states, claims the law is "one-sided" and is "only concerned about conversions away from Hinduism but not towards Hinduism".

The report came in less than a month of US President Barack Obama praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dynamic leadership. Obama said "India will succeed so long as it is not splintered on religious lines".

The report says Muslim communities have reported facing undue scrutiny and arbitrary arrests and detentions, which the government justifies by the need to counter terrorism.

It states "The Muslim community faces significant hate campaigns perpetrated by Hindu nationalist groups and local and state politicians that include widespread media propaganda accusing Muslims of being terrorists; spying for Pakistan; forcibly kidnapping, converting, and marrying Hindu women; and disrespecting Hinduism by slaughtering cows."

Religious conversions have become a divisive political issue since hardliners with links to the BJP said Hinduism was under threat and started a campaign to convince Christians and Muslims to change their faith.

About a fifth of India's 1.27 billion people identify themselves as belonging to faiths other than Hinduism.

TRTWorld and agencies