State Department Elects to Ignore Religious Freedom Violations in India
12/09/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – On Tuesday, December 8, the U.S. State Department announced the list of countries it was designating “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. For many, the omission of India from the list of CPC countries was a disappointment.
Since taking power in 2014, India’s central government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has overseen a country in which anti-minority rhetoric and attacks on religious minorities have dramatically increased.
The increase in religiously motivated violence has been documented by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). In 2014, the year the BJP took power, EFI documented 147 violent attacks on Christians across India. In 2019, the latest data available, the number of violent attacks on Christians documented by EFI more than doubled to 366.
Driving the intolerance and violence is a cycle of incitement and impunity led, in part, by India’s ruling government and its ideological allies. Radical Hindu nationalists, many of them members of the BJP, often use religiously inflammatory rhetoric and pass religiously divisive policies for political gain. The rhetoric and policies then incite radical nationalists to attack religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims.
Following attacks, victims from minorities communities are rarely able to secure justice from governing authorities. A report released by the Alliance Defending Freedom India (ADF) documented 247 instances of persecution in just the first eight months of 2019. According to ADF, First Information Reports, a report filed by police to initiate an investigation, were only filed in only 28 of the 247 cases documented.
The impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of anti-Christian violence in India has resulted in many radical nationalists feeling they have the “tacit approval” of the BJP government.
More must be done to secure the rights and security of India’s religious minorities. By not designating India as a CPC, the State Department has chosen to overlook ever increasing ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.
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