India Acknowledges Rise in Religiously Motivated Violence Under BJP Government

ICC Note: In a report revealed to India’s parliament on February 6, the BJP-led government finally admitted that there has been a rise in religious-based hate crimes in India. This admission confirms long-standing allegations by rights and minority groups in India. This report also coincided with a warning from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India against Hindu nationalism. Will this admission be the first step in India curbing rising religious violence?

02/16/2018 India (World Watch Monitor) – An acknowledgement by India’s BJP-led government that there has been a rise in religion-based hate crime has coincided with a warning from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) about the dangers to the country of a Hindu-nationalist agenda.

Statistics revealed in India’s parliament on February 6 confirmed a long-standing allegation by rights groups that religious-based violence is growing, as UCA News reported.

The data presented by the government showed that 111 people were killed in sectarian violence in 2017, compared to 86 in 2016, and that there were 822 recorded incidents of violence in 2017 compared to 703 in 2016. The highest number of sectarian incidents last year were in Uttar Pradesh, one of five BJP-governed states, where there were 44 deaths and 195 violent incidents.

Blame for the rise in violence was levelled at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a 2017 report co-written by the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, and the UK-based Minority Rights Group. The report said: “In recent years there has been rising hostility against India’s religious minorities, particularly since the current right-wing BJP government, promoting Hindu nationalism, took power at the national level after its election in May 2014.”

Meeting for their biennial assembly in Bangalore, the CBCI cautioned that attempts to impose Hindu nationalism could imperil the cultural and religious diversity of India.

“Any attempt to promote nationalism based on any one particular culture or religion is a dangerous position. It may lead to uniformity but never to genuine unity. Such misconceived efforts can only lead our nation on the path of self-annihilation,” the bishops warned during the eight-day assembly.

“Mono-culturalism has never been and can never be the right answer to the question for peace in a country like ours that has a rich diversity of culture, language, region, race and religion. True nationalism can lead our motherland to genuine peace, harmony, progress and prosperity,” their closing-day press statement said.

“In a climate of violence,” the bishops appealed in their statement “to all fellow citizens to shun mob culture and vigilantism in favor of peace”.

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