Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “India’s federal government and Indian states should be aware that minority rights are being violated and that Sangh Parivar groups are acting as they wish in many situations,” said Ram Puniyani, president of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai as he spoke to AsiaNews about the India section of the 2015 Report on Religious Freedom released on 1 May by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom
According to the report, the general election last year and the victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have led to increased attacks by Hindu extremists against religious minorities.
Criticism has focused on Ghar Wapsi (‘homecoming’) activities in favour of the “reconversion” of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism. This practice is closely associated with radical Hindutva ideology, whereby “every Indian must be Hindu." New Delhi has however rejected the report, accusing Washington of not understanding India.
“While no other country has a right to influence our internal matters, we cannot ignore the global perceptions about what is happening here,” said Ram Puniyani, a professor of biomechanical engineering in Mumbai and a member of various democratic initiatives (All India Secular Forum, Anhad).
“The US commission report is not legally binding on the US [government] but it does influence the perceptions about India and thereby will affect their policies towards us,” he told AsiaNews.
According to the social activist, "we need to distinguish between legality and morality; we need to analyse the growing violence against our minorities.”
“What the US Commission is saying is exactly what human rights activists have been saying all along here in India.”
“What we need is an honest inquiry and punishment for the guilty. The sense of insecurity among minorities must be overcome by giving them adequate protection and security against radical Hindu forces."