Violence against minorities in India decried

Washington (Story by Matters India): An American lawmaker and a panel of four experts on Wednesday decried alleged ‘violence’ against religious minorities in India.

They appealed the US administration to include human rights violations as a topic in its talks with the Indian government.

The Congressional hearing was organized jointly by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and American Sikh Congressional Caucus. Literature distributed at the meet contained testimonies of experts and details of speeches spoke of violence against religious minorities in India.

Congressman Patrick Meehan, Co-Chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus who opened the hearing, alleged that “violence” against religious minorities has increased in India in recent months.

Meehan and the invited experts praised President Barack Obama for raising the issue of religious and human rights in India during his trip to the country early this year.

“Ever since the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] has come at the helm of affairs, with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, Hindutva forces are becoming more and more vocal with assertive notion of their strength,” alleged Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, a retired professor of history from Punjab University.

Joshva Raja, research supervisor, University of Amsterdam, alleged that Christians in India are targeted and attacked by a few Hindutva forces and are being supported by the BJP government in India, reported

In his remarks, he demanded that a national level committee should be set up to look into the grievances of Christian minorities.

He urged the US government to impress upon the Indian government to lift a ban on Christian teachers and theologians from overseas to teach and engage with students in India.

Raja claimed that in one year of the Modi government, as many as 192 attacks on Christians and Christian institutions and churches have occurred, which is an increase of 75 percent over the previous year.

In his testimony, Iqtidar Karamat Cheema, director, Institute for Leadership and Community Development, UK, urged the US to review its foreign policy with regards to India saying it should not support New Delhi for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Sahar Chaudhry, senior policy analyst, US Commission on International Religious Freedom alleged that violence against religious minorities in India has increased in the last one year.

John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch, referred to the increased restrictions on non-governmental organizations in receiving funds from overseas.

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