Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has placed India on the so-called Watch list, which includes countries in which religious and ethnic minorities suffer severe discrimination. The USCIRF are asking President Barak Obama put pressure on the government in New Delhi that "deserves" to be placed on the list for the "largely inadequate response" to fundamentalist violence against Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Christians in Orissa in 2008 -- 2009.
India’s reaction has been one of anger at finding itself compared to countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Somalia and Cuba. Vishnu Prakash, spokesperson for the Indian Foreign Ministry, described the inclusion in the so-called Watch List "aberrant" and an "undue interference" in internal affairs of the country.
Fr. Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), explains to AsiaNews that the USCIRF decision "is a clear indication of the growing concern of the international community to the repeated failure of India to take decisive corrective measures to curb religious intolerance ".
Relations between India and the U.S. in matters of religious freedom have long been troubled. The Annual Report on Religious Freedom by USCIRF presented in Washington May 1st spoke of "positive signals" from India. In July, however, the Commission asked to visit Orissa to check the situation of Christian refugees in the area and their conditions after the Hindu pogrom of August 2008. The Indian authorities denied entry visas arousing controversy. Now the government in New Delhi finds itself included in the Watch list.