WASHINGTON, May 16 (APP): The United States Monday denounced continuing ‘targeted” attacks against Muslims and other minorities in India that are outlined in its 2022 report on the state of religious freedom, and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to hold the perpetrators accountable.
“We’ll continue to speak directly with our colleagues and counterparts in India regarding these concerns,” a senior State Department official, who asked not to be named, told reporters after the release of its annual report, adding, “I’ve been saddened to see what is outlined” in it.
The report was released by Secretary of State Antony Blinken who noted both progress and “continuation, and in some instances, the rise of very troubling trends”. It was seen as a blow to India’s standing in the international community as it prepares to hold G-20 meetings across the country, including in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, warned that by holding a G20 meeting of the working group on tourism on 22-24 May in Srinagar, the Indian government was seeking to normalize what some have described as a military occupation.
Varennes issued a statement, Monday, describing the massive rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killings, denial of political participation rights of Kashmiri Muslims and minorities, following the suspension of democratic rights and local elections with direct rule from New Delhi on 6 August 2019.
Continuing his remarks, the senior State Department official added, “What we outline in today’s (religious freedom) report is a targeted – continued targeted attacks against religious communities, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu Dalits, and indigenous communities; dehumanizing rhetoric, including open calls for genocide against Muslims; lynching and other hate-fueled violence, attacks on houses of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who’ve engaged in attacks on religious minorities – we’re also continuing to see, at the state level, some restrictions on religious attire.
“We’re continuing to encourage the government to condemn violence and hold accountable and protect all groups who engage in rhetoric that’s dehumanizing towards religious minorities and all groups who engage in violence against religious communities and other communities in India.”
The State Department’s annual report has been critical of the state of religious freedom in India before, and, based on local news reports and accounts from civil society, it has listed numerous instances and cases of violations over the years.
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