4/25/2022 The United States Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) has for the third year…
Justice For All and partner organizations submitted a memo to USCIRF documenting that India meets all the criteria in order to be designated a country of particular concern.
We are not anti-India. We are not anti-Hindu. But we collectively cannot remain silent at the many instances of hateful violence.
Commissioner Gayle Manchin,
Commissioner Tony Perkins, Vice-Chair
Commissioner Anurima Bhargava, Vice-Chair
Commissioner Frederick A. Davie
Commissioner Gary L. Bauer
Commissioner James W. Carr
Commissioner Johnnie Moore
Commissioner Nadine Maenza
Commissioner Nury Turkel
Dear Commissioner Manchin,
We wish to commend USCIRF for recommending India as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 International Religious Freedoms report.
Over the past year, the human rights situation in India has degenerated further. Areas of grave concern include the erosion of democratic institutions, the Delhi pogrom which has been followed by incessant violent attacks against religious minorities, and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary. The Modi government is intent on imposing majoritarianism and realizing a Hindu India based on the Hindutva ideology. In the attached pages, we list specific instances of religious persecution, discriminatory laws and other egregious actions adopted by the Indian administration. These are presented in relation to the framework followed by USCIRF in its determination of a CPC. Regretfully, India remains a country which should be recommended as a CPC.
We request that our letter and attachments be shared with all the commissioners and staff at USCIRF. Once again, the recommendation should be that the State Department must designate India as a CPC for 2021.
Memo to USCIRF on India: Country of Particular Concern
We supported USCIRF’s recommendation to designate India as a “country of particular concern’ (CPC) in its 2020 report on religious freedom. We strongly urge USCIRF to recommend India as a CPC again in it’s 2021 Annual report. The conditions on religious freedom in India have deteriorated further within the past year under the Narendra Modi led BJP government. We also request that the entities that drive the Hindutva ideology be recognized by USCIRF as “Entities of Particular Concern”. The foremost among these are the RSS, Bajrang Dal and the affiliated Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
As discussed below, India meets all the criteria for being designated a CPC. The designation of India as a CPC would serve notice to the Indian government to rectify its disturbing discriminatory trajectory against religious minorities. Discriminatory legislation like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Love Jihad (Anti Conversion) laws as well as human rights violations against CAA and farmers’ laws protesters have amply demonstrated the Modi government’s disregard of secular democratic principles. Hundreds of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindu Dalits have been killed. The evidence demonstrates that India is on a path towards a majoritarian and Hindutva centric nation.
Exemplary violations of Religious Freedoms in 2020
Torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
Delhi Pogrom 2020 – At least 52 people were killed and 200 injured in three days of violence in India’s capital in February 2020. Many minority owned businesses and properties were destroyed, and communities displaced in targeted attacks by Hindu mobs. While a policeman and some Hindus were also killed, the majority of the victims were Muslim. Often police were complicit or assisted right wing Hindu mobs. Delhi police fall under the authority of the Home Ministry of India’s central government.
Forced Renunciation of Faith
During the Delhi pogrom, Hindu mobs belonging to a WhatsApp group named “Kattar Hindu Ekta”, bragged about “killing Muslims” and “dumping their bodies in the sewer”. The mob attacks were coordinated, sought out Muslims and demanded they show identification. Nine Muslim men were assaulted and forced to renounce their religion by chanting “Jai Shri Ram” (Glory to Lord Rama). The men were then bludgeoned to death. Six of the bodies were found in the sewer.
In another incident a 52 year old auto rickshaw driver was assaulted when he refused to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Modi Zindabad”(Long Live Modi)
Hate Speech by BJP Leaders – The violence in Delhi was preceded by hate speeches by BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra, Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Amit Shah and Yogi Adityanath.
The fact-finding report on North-East Delhi Riots 2020 states that “violence started in different pockets almost immediately after the short speech of Shri Kapil Mishra on 23 February, 2020 at Maujpur in which he openly called for forceful removal of the protestors at Jafrabad in North East Delhi.”
In their speeches BJP leaders referred to peaceful Anti-CAA protesters as “rapists and murderers” and openly incited violence by calling on the masses to “shoot the traitors”.
No action was taken by the Delhi police against any of these politicians and activists, despite several videos of their inflammatory speeches.They remain unapologetic and threatened to do it again.
Tablighi Jamaat #CoronaJihad – During the chaos of the COVID-19 outbreak, BJP followers falsely blamed the Muslim Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the Corona Virus. They vilified Muslims as “superspreaders”, boycotted Muslim businesses, refused to treat Muslims in hospitals and used hashtags like #CoronaJihad to spread hate against Muslims. Some Hindu organizations refused to distribute food packets to Muslims.
Religious discriminatory attacks targeting Muslims and Christians – In August 2020, in the town of Panipat, an extremist Hindu mob amputated Akhlaq Salmani’s hand with a chainsaw, after they identified him as a Muslim from a symbol on his arm. In another horrific incident of human rights abuse and police brutality, two young Muslim men, Abdurrahman and Bilal, aged 18 and 20 years old, were arrested on fabricated charges of assault on an RSS worker. They were viciously lashed and tortured by having their arms, thighs and genitals burned. Hate crimes against Christians by Hindutva groups also continued to rise despite the COVID lockdown.
Abduction or clandestine detention
After the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, human rights violations worsened during the pandemic in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government continued to practice violent enforced disappearances. Hundreds of Kashmiris remain detained without charge in Jammu and Kashmir under the draconian Public Safety Act, which permits detention without trial for up to two years. Kashmir was the only Muslim-majority state in India which was forced under Indian control. New Kashmir domicile laws have been introduced, which can only be seen as an attempt to change the demographics of the region. In the state of Punjab, thousands of young men, mostly Sikh, are reported missing. Resources:
Prolonged Detention Without Charges
The list of political prisoners in India is growing at an alarming rate. Across India, anyone who dares or could dare to express political disagreement with the Modi government risks going to jail on fraudulent charges, in which trial and bail are difficult. Many people are “preventively” imprisoned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which is often used with questionable evidence. Father Stan Swamy, Safoora Zargar, Dr. Kafeel Khan, Sudha Bharadwaj, Nodeep Kaur are just a few of the hundreds of prisoners who faced imprisonment and harassment for peacefully dissenting against Modi’s authoritarian regime.
Other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons
Beef /Cow lynching – Hindutva activists continued their violent cow vigilantism in 2020 as they brutally attacked a 25 year old Muslim youth who was carrying buffalo meat in Gurugram.
Babri Masjid Verdict – In a travesty of justice, a special Court acquitted all 32 accused involved in the illegal demolition of the historic Babri Masjid which had led to communal violence that left over 2,000 dead, mostly Muslims. This is another manifestation of a pliant judiciary under the extremist BJP regime in which ‘Hindutva’ ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice and international norms.
The court’s verdict was in stark contrast to the findings of the Union government’s Liberhan Commission which was constituted to inquire into the demolition.
Hathras Rape Case – In one of the many growing incidents of sexual assaults against Dalit women, a 19-year-old girl was brutally gang raped by 4 higher caste Hindus in the town of Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. With her spinal cord broken, tongue sliced off, she was left to die in the farm where she was discovered by her mother. She was treated at the Aligarh Muslim University Medical College Hospital, where it was determined that she had been raped. Later reports sought to bring the initial reports to question. Furthermore, after her death, and in a final act of degradation of their lower caste, her family was locked up while the police forcibly cremated her body without permission from her family or allowing anyone from her family to be present. Journalists who were covering the incident were also arrested under the guise of National Security, and sedition charges brought against them.
The above examples amply demonstrate that India should be recommended as a CPC using the very tests that USCIRF specifies in determining if a country should be listed as one. It’s not surprising that India has been downgraded several places in the Democracy Index by several leading agencies.
Genocide Watch continues to list India with two watches against it. We will continue to highlight these issues that Indian minorities face day after day, and urge USCIRF to again recommend India as a CPC to the State Department to prevent an impending genocide