ucanews.com reporter, New DelhiPublished: January 04, 2019 09:05 AM GMT
Tens of thousands of Hindu hardliners rally to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on the remains of a demolished 16th century Babri mosque located in Ayodhya, in this Dec. 9 file photo. (Photo by Sajjad Hussain/AFP)
A British parliamentary report has criticized the Indian government for failing to protect religious minorities from violent Hindu hardliners.
A report by the British All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief said the rise of nationalist "Hindutva" ideology — which defines 'Indian' as exclusively Hindu — has led to an increase in religious oppression in the country.
The Dec. 31 report titled 'Commentary on the Current State of Freedom of Religion or Belief' said anti-conversion laws in seven of India's states are also used to threaten Muslims and Christians.
In its India chapter, the report said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi "has finally, condemned mob violence against minorities, but his government has remained largely inactive in proactively tackling spiraling religiously motivated violence."
The report said a "particularly worrying" situation emerges from media reports that some members of the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have close affiliations with the Hindu hard-line group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Founded in 1925, the RSS draws on its vision from a mix of Hindu legends and ancient Indian history. It claims that India is a Hindu land and religious minorities should accept Hindu supremacy if they want to live in the country.
Rights activists have agreed with the concerns expressed in the report. They have said that the situation worsened since the BJP came to power in 2014, with Hindu hardliners seeing the party's victory as a mandate to push for their goal of Hindu nationhood.
Adil Hussain, a New Delhi based rights activist, said he feared that the violence targeting religious minorities will only get worse.
"Now with national elections due in April this year, there are fears that religious violence could spike," said Hussain.
He cited recent meetings of Hindu groups pushing for the construction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya, in India's Uttar Pradesh where Hindu hardliners demolished a mosque 26 years ago in the same location.
"The leaders of nationalist groups have openly asked Hindus to produce more children and train them in weaponry to fight Muslims," said Adil. "This poison is spreading across the country and is leaving minorities in dire straits."
Christian leader A.C. Michael told ucanews.com that numerous reports have revealed a clear pattern of rising religious intolerance against Christians in India.
Those involved in anti-Christians attacks have a certain level of impunity due to tacit approval from government officials and the police, Michael said.
A report by ADF-India, an organization defending Christian rights in the country, stated there were 219 incidents of Hindu violence reported against Christians, mostly affecting women and children, between January and October 2018.
"Despite hundreds of anti-Christians incidents, police registered a crime in only 12 cases," Michael said. "What is more shocking is the fact that the political leaders in the country have maintained a silence over the incidents and haven't condemned a single one."
Ishmail Ahmad, a political commentator based in New Delhi, told ucanews.com that surveys reveal that minorities — especially Muslims and Christians — disapprove of the way the BJP government functions.
Most he said do not want the BJP to retain power in India and will vote accordingly in the April election.
India has some 170 million Muslims in a population of 1.2 billion people, according to official census. There are 28 million Christians scattered across the country.
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