US human rights activists criticize Modi for growing attacks on religious minorities

Washington: Expressing deep concern over growing attacks on religious minorities by Hindutva outfits in India, US-based religious freedom activists criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his failure to stop the violence. Religious freedom activists and several other groups in the US have urged him to take all necessary measures to curb the rise of Hindutva extremism and punish groups involved in violence against religious minorities in the country.

The Indian-American Muslim Council organised a briefing titled ‘Religious Freedom in India: A Briefing on Capitol Hill’, at the US Capitol on Thursday. The briefing was attended by activists, Congressional staffs, State Department officials, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and civil society members.

Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair, USCIRF is quoted to have said, “The failure of PM Modi to definitively condemn and to definitively distance himself from the extreme elements of his party has played a substantial and significant role in bringing about the situation that we see today.”

Urging Modi to condemn such violence against religious minorities and take all necessary measures to curb the rise of Hindutva extremism and punish the Hindutva groups involved in violence, the participants said Muslims and Christians are the “primary victims”.

Swett, the daughter of Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to have ever been elected to US Congress, who founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus alleged “Inflammatory rh¬e¬t¬o¬ric and a conception of India’s national identity increasingly based on religion have contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation, exclusion, and even violence directed at non-Hindus.”