[Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student, committed suicide in Hyderabad alleging discrimination and bias (File phot)]
Washington: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated that Muslims and other religious minorities in India are subjected to hatred and discrimination, ARY News reported.
Intolerance against minorities has increased in India under the premiership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; the Express Tribune reported quoting USCIRF on Wednesday.
The American body analyzed mounting concerns over the fate of minorities in the secular country, highlighting constitutional laws which violate the religious freedom of minorities and Hindu Dalits.
“As feared by many faith communities across India, threats, hate crimes, social boycotts, desecrations of places of worship, assaults, and forced conversions led by radical Hindu nationalist movements have escalated dramatically under the BJP led government,” the USCIRF claims.
The commission has urged the U.S. government to ensure religious freedom and human rights in its diplomatic and economic ties with India.
India’s religiously diverse population of over 1.2 billion people consists of nearly 80 percent of its total population being Hindu, with an estimated 172.2 million Muslims, 27.8 million Christians, 20.8 million Sikhs, and 4.5 million Jains (ancient religion from India).
While the Indian constitution allows complete legal equality for all citizens, the report found constitutional strains in the state and national laws that are not at par with international standards of freedom of religion.
“India is a religiously diverse and democratic society with a constitution that provides legal equality for its citizens irrespective of their religion and prohibits religion-based discrimination,” the USCIRF Chair Thomas J Reese, S J said.
“However, the reality is far different. In fact, India’s pluralistic tradition faces serious challenges in a number of its states. During the past few years, religious tolerance has deteriorated and religious freedom violations have increased in some areas of India.
"To reverse this negative trajectory, the Indian and state governments must align theirs laws with both the country’s constitutional commitments and international human rights standards", the report said.
The report concluded with recommendations for the Indian and US governments to improve the serious challenges India faces to both its pluralistic traditions and its religious minorities.