India fails to comply with international standards on freedom of religion leading to the discrimination and persecution of religious minorities, said a new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The report, "Constitutional and
Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India" said that,
although the country's Constitution guarantees equal rights to religious
minorities, the government fails to comply with international
It also enumerates India's failure to ensure the
rights of Dalit people, those from socially and economically poor
castes, once considered untouchables.
communities and Dalits, both have faced discrimination and persecution
due to a combination of overly broad or ill-defined laws, an inefficient
criminal justice system, and a lack of jurisprudential consistency,"
the report said.
Hindus form the majority 80 percent of India's
1.2 billion people while Muslims form some 15 percent. Christians, the
second largest religious minority, form just 2.3 percent. Dalits and
tribal people make up 70 percent of India's 27 million Christians.
2016, at least 10 Christians were killed and over 500 members of the
community were attacked for their faith or for allegedly converting
people to Christianity, said a report by the Catholic Secular Forum in
"Symbolic and structural violence has increased in
the country since 2014. The government needs to respond to such violence
in a much more sensible way rather than denying it," said Samuel
Jaikumar of the National Council of Churches in India, a union of all
Protestant and Orthodox Churches.
Laws help discrimination continue
U.S. report said that seven of the 29 states have adopted laws banning
religious conversions, which has resulted in inequitable practices.
report said that state governments have described church humanitarian
aid and development "as a cause of improper and unethical conversions."
report also said that India's law to regulate foreign funding has
consistently been used against civil society organizations, charities
and other non-governmental organizations that question government
In June 2015, India put the leading Christian charity,
Caritas International, on its watch list. The charity, which is the
social arm of the Vatican, was scrutinized for alleged "anti-India
activities," the report said.
Referring to the Indian Divorce Act
2001 that restricts inheritance, alimony payments, and property
ownership of people from interfaith marriages, the report said the law
"The act also interferes in the personal lives
of Christians by not allowing marriage ceremonies to be conducted in a
church if one of the partners is non-Christian," it added.
cow protection laws in India which restrict or ban cow slaughter are
"often mixed with anti-Muslim sentiment," the report said. Cow slaughter
"has remained a perpetual source of tension between Hindu, Muslim and
In recommendation, it said that India should
stop harassing groups, reform anti-conversion laws, and establish "a
test of reasonableness" surrounding prohibitions on cow slaughter. It
also asked India to adopt the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.