The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has put India on its “watch list” for a second time saying the nation experiences continued attacks on Christians and Muslims and their places of worship.
The commission’s annual report released today said “multitude of religious communities has historically coexisted peacefully” in India. But government moves are inadequate protect such peaceful life.
India’s “progress in protecting and promoting religious freedom during the past year was mixed” the report said while placing the country on its “watch list.”
The report said government at various levels recognized the problem of communal violence. “However, justice for victims of communal violence was slow and often ineffective, thereby perpetuating a climate of impunity.”
It noted that there was “no large-scale communal violence against religious minorities” during the past year but “attacks on Christians and Muslims and their places of worship continued, along with incidences of intolerance against both.”
The commission urged the U.S. government to take up issues of religious freedom and related human rights into all bilateral contacts with India. It also urged the U.S. ambassador to India to speak out against, and seek to visit sites of, communal violence.
The commission was unable to obtain visa last year to visit Orissa, where an anti-Christian riots in 2008 killed some 90 people and displaced some 50,000, mostly Christians.
The Commission attempted to visit India for assessing the status of religious freedom first hand but “no visas were granted,” the report said
In 2009, the commission has placed India in its “watch list” for the first time saying government’s response was inadequate to violence against religious minority communities, including Christians in Orissa in 2008 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002.
The countries on the “watch list” are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.
The report also listed 13 nations as “countries of particular concern” implying grave lack of religious freedom in those nations. These countries are Burma, China, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.