VFF Updates USCIRF Executives. India placed on Watch list in USCIRFs annual report 2011

| May 13, 2011 | 0 Comments


May 13, 2011: USCIRF (U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom) has placed India on its watch list in its annual report 2011. Watch listed countries are under close monitoring due to the nature and extent of religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by their governments.

USCIRF is an independent commission of United States and works for the establishment of religious freedom all over the world. USCIRF’s principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations to the US government to take steps to improve the situation of religious freedom, justice and equality in certain countries.

Republic of India is a secular country and claims to be equal and impartial for all religions and minorities. Section 295 and 295A of Indian Penal Code protect the religious creeds and worship places and forbid any effort of their disgrace. Thus, these sections secure the sanctity and sacredness of the followers of different religions.

Despite these guarantees ground situation is not very ideal. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch etc. have published a number of reports expressing their concerns about the status of religious freedom and minorities of India. Recent report of USCIRF is another eye opener for the disclaimers of secularism. The report advocates that US government should act multi-dimensionally to help Indian government to improve the situation in this connection.

USCIRF urges the U.S. government to encourage and assist the government of India to make more vigorous and effective efforts to halt violent attacks against members of religious minorities, as well as women and individuals deemed to be of lower caste; conduct timely investigations and prosecutions of individuals alleged to have perpetrated violence; hold state governments and officials accountable for violence and unlawful acts in their states; remove “anti-conversion” laws and enact policies that encourage religious tolerance in accordance with India’s rich history of religious pluralism.

Besides the communal violence in Orissa 2007-08 and in Gujarat 2002, the massacre of Indian Security Agencies in Punjab in 1984 has also been pinpointed comprehensively in this report.

VFF (Voices for Freedom) wants to have the attention of USCIRF towards the fact that it was not in 1984 only when religious rights were denied to Sikhs in India. Every now-and-then there sacred shrines and gurdwaras are attacked by Hindu extremists. Killing of Bhai Prabhjit Singh in 2007 at Delhi Gurdwara Sahib, damages and disgrace of the Gurdwara Sahib (http://www.panthic.org/articles/3725) and illegal detention of Bhai Pal Singh since July 23rd 2010 who was preaching Sikh norms in Sikh youth, are just some ordinary examples of the status of religious freedom in India. Moreover, torturous activities of Punjab Police are also making things difficult for Sikhs.

VFF delegation met with USCIRF executives and apprised the commission about few of above mentioned religious right violation incidents and it is only tip of the iceberg. The delegation informed the commission that almost all minorities including Sikhs feels that their religious rights are not safe and appropriate justice is not delivered by the prevailing justice system in most of the incidents. VFF stressed USCIRF executives to apply for the visa to see all the atrocities with their own eyes by visiting India and prepare a first hand report for the world to read and make appropriate policy change to bring true religious freedom in India. So far USCIRF has not been allowed to visit India, the largest democracy in the world.

VFF appreciates the step taken by USCIRF and urges the commission to recommend CPC designation for India to US government and force Indian government to take appropriate actions by using its influence. So that peace loving Sikhs may also have a sigh of relief and republic of India may demonstrate practically what it claims of.

Sudip Minhas
P: 646-219-2863

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