‘India’s religious minorities were attacked with impunity in 2015’

Violence against Muslims under the guise of "cow protection" finds special mention, in the the annual report of the U.S. State Department on International Religious Freedom.

August 11, 2016 03:58 am | Updated November 17, 2021 02:32 am IST - WASHINGTON

Religious minorities in India were repeatedly targeted in 2015 and attackers acted with impunity, said the annual report of the U.S. State Department on International Religious Freedom. The report echoes the findings of U.S. Congress-authorised International Commission on Religious Freedom’s report earlier this year.

Cow protection violence

Violence against Muslims under the guise of “cow protection” finds special mention. “Religiously motivated communal violence, including attacks by Hindus on Muslims due to alleged cow slaughter, led to deadly attacks and public rioting. Hindu nationalists threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property because of their beliefs and in disputes over the location of churches and mosques,” said the report, released on Wednesday.

The report acknowledges a promise by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to protect the religious rights of all, but also notes that several leaders associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Union Minister Mahesh Sharma and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar have made statements to the contrary.

“On several occasions, such as at a meeting in February with Christians in New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi publicly stated he would defend religious freedom,” the report said. “Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar remarked, “Muslims can stay in India, but they will have to give up eating beef,” and federal Minister of Tourism Mahesh Sharma called the Dadri killing an “accident” and warned against interpreting the killings as religiously motivated.

The report notes that in 2015, in clashes with Sikhs protesting the desecration of their holy book by unknown assailants, police killed two protesters, and 80 others were injured.

The State Department report also quotes the findings of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which said that while in the April 2014-March 2015 period, there was reduction in communal violence, it increased later.

“In the first six months of 2015, the MHA reported 330 incidents and 51 deaths, an increase over the 252 incidents and 33 deaths recorded over the same period during the previous year,” the report said.

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