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(RNS) The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has put India on its `watch list,’ citing the country’s “inadequate” response to recent waves of violence toward religious minorities.
While there has been a “disturbing increase in communal violence” in India, “the government’s response… has been found to be largely inadequate and the national government has failed to take effective measures to ensure the rights of religious minorities in several states, the commission said.
USCIRF has been particularly concerned about India’s religious tolerance since 2002, when organizations related to the Hindu Nationalist party Bharatiya Janata were on the rise. At that time, India was designated as a “country of particular concern,” — the commission’s most condemning category — but has since been removed from that list.
With attacks against Christians in December of 2007 and into 2008, USCIRF’s attention has been called back to India. They reported inadequate police and judiciary response to the violence and the subsequent displacement of 60,000 or more Christians in August and September of 2008.
Although USCIRF’s annual report is generally released in May, the chapter on India was postponed. The release announcing the country’s placement on USCIRF’s watch list was published Wednesday (Aug. 13).
“This year’s India chapter was delayed because USCIRF had requested to visit India this summer,” the release stated. “The Indian government, however, declined to issue USCIRF visas for the trip.”
What sets India apart from most of the countries on the watch list, which includes such places as Somalia, Cuba and Afghanistan, is their democratically elected government.
“In practice, however, India’s democratic institutions charged with upholding the rule of law … lack capacity and have emerged as unwilling or unable to consistently seek redress for victims of religiously-motivated violence,” said the USCIRF.
By Kristen May
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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