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Report by minority rights group paints BJP black

Recently, an international human rights group released a report that does not put India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a favorable light. As noted by a local Indian newspaper, the report details incidents all across South Asia where religious minorities have suffered persecution, and observes that India has overall better legislative protection of its minorities than its neighbors. It also maintains, however, that social pressures and lack of will to enforce these protections still leave Indian minorities vulnerable.

Roughly two months after its victory in the polls this year, the BJP continues to concern Christians and other religious minorities who fear that the party’s Hindu nationalist sentiments spell danger for them.

By Anahita Mukherji

7/3/2014 India (Indiatimes) – The BJP has made it to the ‘State of The World’s Minorities and Indigenous People 2014’ report for all the wrong reasons. The report, released by Minority Rights Group (MRG) International on Thursday, delves into BJP’s role in the Muzaffarnagar riots in UP in the run-up to the polls.

According to a case study on the Muzaffarnagar riots that was part of the report, both Muslim and Jat respondents held BJP responsible for the communal violence.

Minorities across South Asia were also affected by political transitions over the last year, said the report. While Pakistan witnessed its first-ever democratic transfer of power between two elected governments in 2013, Shias were killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan that year, while there were violent attacks on Christians in Lahore and Peshawar. Nepal witnessed hate crimes against Muslims and Dalits, while Christians, Shias and the Hazaras in Afghanistan faced threats. Bangladesh saw continued attacks against Hindus.

“India has progressive and significant legislation and policies that protect the rights of its minorities, including national- and state-level minority commissions, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act, and reservations for minorities in education and politics. India’s neighbours have not quite managed to secure such broad rights protection at the national level. Still, India has problems implementing its own legislation… India has provisions in the penal code which can be used to prosecute hate speech crimes. But widespread entrenched discrimination against minorities and gender discrimination result in the lack of will on behalf of authorities to investigate and prosecute hate crimes and hate speech against minorities,” Nicole Girard, Asia programme coordinator, MRG and co-author of the South Asia chapter of the report, told TOI, adding that India must pay special attention to the role of politicians in inciting and manipulating violence against minorities.

“Two kinds of discourse took place during India’s elections, one aimed at a certain notion of development focused on the private sector, and another aimed at creating fear and polarization,” says Harsh Mander, who heads the Centre for Equity Studies, which contributed to the India chapter.


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