WASHINGTON — Following United States’ failure to include India in a list of states that violate religious freedoms, a Democratic lawmaker has sounded the alarm over the country’s potential descent into Hindu nationalism.
In a farewell speech delivered earlier in the week, outgoing Democratic Congressman Andy Levin said that India was at risk of becoming a Hindu nationalist state rather than a secular democracy.
Mr Levin said the rights of all people in India, whether Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, or Jews, need to be protected.
“What is happening in Kashmir deserves the world’s attention. While Kashmir may not be in the nightly news, it is still a prime example of how Mr Modi is taking India in the wrong direction in terms of human rights and democracy,” he said in an earlier statement.
Mr Levin was vice chair of the subcommittee on Asia, said: “the India of Narendra Modi today is not the India I fell in love with.”
“The reason why I am so critical and so publicly critical of a country that I love is that I am so passionate in my support for the vibrant democracy I came to know as a young man that I want to see that democracy flourishes for generations to come,” he said.
Earlier this month, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) decried the Department of State’s decision not to include India in its latest designations of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), turning a blind eye to its particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
Last month, at least 21 countries urged India to improve its protection of freedom of religion and rights of religious minorities.
In a joint statement, six international human rights groups also reminded New Delhi that it still needs to implement that recommendations that are part of a recent UN report on India.
The recommendations cover a range of key concerns including the protection of minority communities and vulnerable groups, tackling gender-based violence, upholding civil society freedoms, protecting human rights defenders, and ending torture in custody. — Agencies
Photo: Outgoing Democratic Congressman Andy Levin.