Attacks against Muslims, other minorities continue in India: US report

Washington, June 23 (KMS): An official US report has said that the mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, continued in India in 2018.

The US State Department in its annual 2018 International Religious Freedom Report said, “Mob attacks by violent extremist Hindu groups against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued throughout the year amid rumours that victims had traded or killed cows for beef.”

The report said that some senior officials of the ruling BJP made inflammatory speeches against the minority communities. According to some NGOs, the authorities often protected perpetrators from prosecution, it said.

It said that as of November, there were 18 such attacks, and eight people were killed during the year. On June 22, two Uttar Pradesh police officers were charged after Muslim cattle trader died of injuries sustained while being questioned in police custody, the report said.

The State Department report said that there were reports by nongovernmental organisations that the government sometimes failed to act on mob attacks on religious minorities, marginalised communities and critics of the government.

It said that the central and state governments and members of political parties took steps that affected Muslim practices and institutions. “Proposals to rename Indian cities with Muslim provenance continued, most notably the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj. Activists said these proposals were designed to erase Muslim contributions to Indian history and had led to increased communal tensions,” it said.

There were reports of religiously-motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs and proselytize, the annual report said.

The report also mentioned the brutal gang-rape and murder of eight-year-old Aasifa Bano of Kathua area of Jammu region of occupied Kashmir. “On January 10, Jammu and Kashmir police arrested eight men, including four police personnel, in connection with the kidnapping, gang rape, and killing of an 8-year-old girl (Aasifa). The men allegedly kidnapped the victim, took her to a nearby temple, and raped and killed her in an effort to drive her nomadic Muslim community out of the area,” it said.

Mandated by the Congress, the State Department in its voluminous report gives its assessment of the status of religious freedom in almost all the countries and territories of the world. Releasing the report, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said the report is like a report card which tracks countries to see how well they have respected this fundamental human right.

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