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ICC Note:

A U.S. Congressional commission held a briefing yesterday denouncing the escalation in violence against religious minorities in India. Over the past year, attacks on Christians and other religious minorities have skyrocketed in India. Many human rights observers attribute this trend to the rise of the current BJP-led national government that adheres to a Hindu nationalist ideology. In conclusion, the commission called on the U.S. to prioritize religious freedom and tackling the violence against religious minorities in future U.S.-India relations.

6/4/2015 India (Daily News & Analysis) – An American lawmaker and a panel of four experts on Wednesday decried alleged ‘violence’ against religious minorities in India and appealed to the US administration to include human rights violations as an issue for discussion in its talks with the new Indian government.

At a Congressional hearing organized jointly by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and American Sikh Congressional Caucus, literature containing testimonies of experts and details of speeches distributed to members spoke of violence against religious minorities, with a map of India which showed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as part of Pakistan.

Opening the hearing, Congressman Patrick Meehan, Co-Chair of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus, alleged that “violence” against religious minorities has increased in India in recent months, calling it an issue of serious concern.

Meehan and the invited experts praised President Barack Obama for raising the issue of religious and human rights in India during his trip to the country early this year.

“Ever since the BJP has come at the helm of affairs, with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, Hindutva forces are becoming more and more vocal with assertive notion of their strength,” alleged Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, a retired professor of history from Punjab University.

Joshva Raja, Research Supervisor, University of Amsterdam, alleged that Christians in India today are targeted and attacked by few Hindutva forces and are being supported by the BJP government in India.

In his remarks, he demanded that a national level committee should be set up to look into the grievances of Christian minorities.

He urged the US government to impress upon the Indian government to lift a ban on Christian teachers and theologians from overseas to teach and engage with students in India.

Raja claimed that in one year of the Modi government, as many as 192 attacks on Christians and Christian institutions and churches have occurred, which is an increase of 75 per cent over the previous year.

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