Protect India’s religious minorities: U.S. House resolution

A bipartisan resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week has praised the U.S. government for holding firm to its 2005 decision to deny Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi a visa to enter the U.S.

Introduced on Monday evening, House Resolution 417 also urged the Government of India to “to publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's general elections in 2014.”

Marking what appeared to be stronger support within the U.S. Congress for religious minorities’ rights in India, the resolution noted, “Contrary to the tolerant and pluralistic traditions of the Hindu faith, strands of the Hindu nationalist movement have advanced a divisive and violent agenda that has harmed the social fabric of India.”

In this context, the resolution called for religious freedom and related human rights to be included in the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, which is a key mechanism for progress in bilateral cooperation in recent years. The resolution also suggested that such issues ought to be raised “directly with federal and state Indian Government officials when appropriate.”

The resolution, sponsored by Representative Joseph Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, was co-sponsored by 14 other Congressmen from both parties, including Democrats Keith Ellison and John Conyers, and Republican Steve Chabot, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

While the resolution referenced the February 2002 incident in Godhra in which “58 Hindus were burnt alive in a train coach fire,” it also emphasised that the U.S.’ International Religious Freedom Report of 2003 and subsequent years quoted the State Department finding that “In Gujarat the worst religious violence directed against Muslims by Hindus took place in February and March 2002, leaving an estimated 2,000 dead and 100,000 displaced into refugee camps.”

Commenting on the resolution Representative Pitts said, “The Indian government cannot expect to make greater strides on religious freedom and human rights in the future while countless thousands have not seen justice for their lost loved ones.”

Welcoming the resolution Kannan Srinivasan, spokesperson for the Coalition Against Genocide, a broad alliance fighting for justice for victims of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom said, “It is a sad day for all Indians, that a man whose complicity in mass violence and suppression of minorities is acknowledged internationally, happens to be the Prime Ministerial candidate of a major political party in India.”

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 1:32:54 pm |