The India chapter of the United States’ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003 mentions “religiously motivated violence against Muslims and Christians” as one of the “significant human rights abuses” in India.

How is it that the word Hindus is not included in that? Is it to say that there is no “religiously motivated violence” against Hindus? Or is it to say that violence againt the “majority” by the “minority” is not accounted to be religiously motivated… but in self defense… ?

Under the section Freedom of Religion the report says:

The Constitution provides for secular government and the protection of religious freedom, and the central Government generally respected these provisions in practice; however, it sometimes did not act effectively to counter societal attacks against religious minorities and attempts by state and local governments to limit religious freedom. This failure resulted, among other reasons, from the legal constraints inherent in the country’s federal structure and from the inadequacies in law enforcement and justice systems. The ineffective investigation and prosecution of attacks on religious minorities was interpreted by some extremist elements as a signal that such violence likely would go unpunished. Tension between Muslims and Hindus, and between Hindus and Christians, continued to pose a challenge to the secular foundation of the State.

Although the law provides for religious freedom, enforcement of the law was poor, particularly at the state and local levels, where the failure to deal adequately with intragroup and intergroup conflict abridged constitutional protections.

The leading party in the government coalition is the BJP, a Hindu nationalist political party with links to Hindu extremist groups that were implicated in violent acts against Christians and Muslims. The BJP also leads state governments in Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Arunachal Pradesh. In Orissa, the BJP rules in coalition with the Biju Janapa Dal. Many BJP leaders and party workers were members of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), an organization based on Hindu nationalism, and share some of its ideology. The RSS espouses a return to what it considers Hindu values and cultural norms. However, the BJP is an independent political party, and the degree of RSS influence over its policy making was not clear.

There were reports that members of the BJP, the RSS, and other affiliated organizations harassed and at times threatened the use of violence against Christians and Muslims. The BJP and RSS officially expressed respect and tolerance for other religions; however, the RSS in particular opposes conversions from Hinduism and believes that all citizens should adhere to Hindu cultural values. […]

The accompanying International Religious Freedom Report 2003 has this to say about the situation in India:

[…] The status of religious freedom improved in some ways and worsened in others during the period covered by this report. Although there was a decrease in the number of incidents of Hindu-Muslim and Hindu-Christian violence during the period covered by this report, two more state-level anticonversion laws were passed, and there was a gradual but continual institutionalization of “Hindutva,” the politicized inculcation of Hindu religious and cultural norms to the exclusion of other religious norms. […]

The United States’ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003 and the International Religious Freedom Report 2003 continue to amaze me… especially in the context of the human right violations at Guantanamo Bay, and not to mention the post September-11 communal persecution in the United States of America.

1 Comment

  1. offhand I would imagine that it has to do with the fact that the ruling Hindu party has been linked to quite a bit of organized violence against muslims and christians, but I havent read the report.

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