A US panel has said that religious minorities in India have been subjected to “violent attacks”, “forced conversions” and ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaigns by groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after the Narendra Modi government assumed power in 2014.
In its annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said, “Since the election, religious minority communities have been subject to derogatory comments by politicians linked to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).”
“In advance of the programme, the Hindu groups sought to raise money for their campaign, noting that it cost nearly 2,00,000 rupees per Christian and 5,00,000 rupees per Muslim. After both domestic and international criticism, the day was ‘postponed’ according to Mohan Bhagwat, an RSS leader.”
“Members of the RSS allegedly tricked dozens of Muslims families into attending a meeting by telling them they would be provided financial help, but instead a Hindu religious leader performed a Hindu conversion ceremony; an investigation is underway,”
The report also brought up the 2002 Gujarat communal riots, when Modi was Chief Minister of the state.
The Panel concluded that Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were the states most prone to communal violence.
As a result of these circumstances, the USCIRF has asked the Barack Obama administration to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who make derogatory remarks about communities and to boost religious freedom standards in India.
External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “Our attention has been drawn to a report of the USCIRF which has passed judgement on religious freedom in India. The report appears to be based on limited understanding of India, its Constitution and its society. We take no cognisance of the report.”