Asia/Pacific - India
Religious freedom on US radar
("IANS," May 7, 2006)
New Delhi, India - The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has said that it is “closely” monitoring religious freedoms in India.
The US commission announced its 2006 recommendations to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on “countries of particular concern (CPCs)” on Wednesday, saying that though India should not be under watch, it was being “monitored closely”.
The commission’s letter to Rice stated that despite improvements after the defeat of the BJP in the 2004 general election, “concerns about religious freedom in India remain, particularly indications that attacks on Christian churches and individuals persist.BJP-led Rajasthan in particular has been the recent scene of serious attacks on Christian individuals and institutions carried out by members of extremist groups espousing Hindu nationalism”.
“The government has continued to act decisively in several volatile situations in the past year to prevent communal violence in circumstances where it has erupted in the past, most notably following the bombings in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in early 2006, reportedly carried out by Islamist extremist groups,” it explained.
It said that the Supreme Court had taken significant steps to bring to justice those responsible for the violence in Gujarat post-Godhra riots in 2002,.It also noted that school textbooks that had been revised and published under the previous BJP government were replaced in 2005.
The commission recommended that Burma, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam be designated as CPCs.
BJP-led Rajasthan has been the recent scene of serious attacks on Christian individuals and institutions carried out by members of extremist groups espousing Hindu nationalism.