Indian-American community delegation calls on Ambassador for International Religious Freedom 

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Demands imposition of sanctions on Indian agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom,” including “freezing of their assets”

By Special Correspondent

Washington DC:   A joint delegation of the four organization of the Indian-American Community on Friday called on Sam Brownback, US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, on India. The delegation demanded to impose “targeted sanctions” on “Indian agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom,” including “freezing of their assets and barring their entry” as India was declared “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC). Ambassador  assured the delegation that he will use all channels to pursue  the recommendations of the USCIRF report.

The representatives of the four organizations of the American Muslim Institution, Washington DC, Hindus for Human Rights, New York, American Sikh Council, New Jersey and Association of Indian Muslims, Washington DC were part of the delegation. The delegation was comprising Dr Islam Siddiqi, Ms Sunita Viswanath, Sardar Kavneet Singhl, Mr Kaleem Kawaja, held a one hour meeting with Ambassador Sam Brownback to discuss the very degraded condition of rights of religious minorities in India.

The delegation discussed the findings and recent annual report of the US Commission for International Religious freedom relating to minorities in India. The Commission’s conclusions that in the last 6 years and especially in the last 1 year religious minorities including Muslims and Christians have faced substantial injustice perpetrated by the BJP government authorities and police in many states and cities, were discussed.

Khaja  said Ambassador Brownback told the delegation that he is aware of the recent USCIRF report on India and considers this issue a very serious issue that Indian government should work to resolve quickly. He said that he will pursue this issue in the channels available to him.

The delegation emphasized that their communities will like the above awful situation to be reversed so that India can improve its economic and industrial base. However the BJP government seems to be encouraging many unlawful activities and violent oppression of minorities. The delegation stated that most people from the majority Hindu community in India are secular, lawful and friendly towards the minorities.

According to Kaleem Kawaja, the delegation presented a letter to Ambassador Brownback and sought his help in persuading the BJP government and India’s Prime Minister Modi to take effective steps to reverse the above situation in India.

The letter stated that:

1-India is categorized as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) following a sharp escalation in attacks on its religious minorities in 2019.

2-Imposing “targeted sanctions” on “Indian agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom,” including “freezing of their assets and barring their entry” into the US.

3-US Embassy and consulates in India engage with “religious communities, local officials, and police;” partner with law enforcement “to build capacity to protect religious minorities;” and allocate “funding to support civil society to create a monitoring and early warning system in partnership with police to challenge hate speech and incitement to violence.”

4-The USCIRF report calls out Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA),” by way of instituting “national level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims,” engaging in “hate speech and incitement to violence,” and 1155 F St. N.W., Suite 1050, Washington D.C. 20004 allowing the violence to “continue with impunity.”

The letter further stated that, “Since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, the BJP and RSS have launched organized efforts to harass, lynch and even kill those belonging to minority communities, including Muslims, Christians and Dalits. The passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register for Citizens has led to the marginalization of minority communities that have lived in India for generations. Media reports indicate the construction of large detention facilities to house hundreds of thousands of individuals unable to produce citizenship documentation.”

USCIRF report states, Hindu nationalist groups conduct “campaigns of harassment, social exclusion, and violence” against Christians, “empowered by anti-conversion laws and often with the police’s complicity.”

It pointed out that, “Since Mr. Modi took power in 2014, attacks on Christians have increased as have their harassment and targeting through multiple layers of persecution. Church services are disrupted regularly and Christians brutalized and arrested on false evidence.”

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