05/07/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Jesuit: Minorities are second-class citizens in Gujarat

by Nirmala Carvalho
Fr. Cedric Prakash comments on the latest report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which analyzes the situation of the Indian state. The anti-conversion law in Gujarat imposes the civil authorities permission to change religion. For years, the U.S. deny head of the government a visa, for his role in the massacres of 2002.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "In 2013 minorities are still treated as second-class citizens in Gujarat ": the complaint comes from Fr. Cedric Prakash, director of the Prashant Jesuit Centre in Ahmedabad for human rights, justice and peace, commenting on the latest report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Published two days ago, the report has added India to level 2 of its ranking among the countries where the violations and religious persecution are growing, focusing on the situation in the State of Gujarat.

The priest noted that "the anti-conversion decree [Gujarat Freedom of Religion Law 2003] of our state is one of the most draconian laws across the country, because it forces anyone who wants to convert to first ask the civil authority. Nowadays in different areas of Gujarat police visit Christian churches and asks to examine the baptisms records".

Besides the current situation, the Jesuit recalls attention to the fact that "the victims and survivors of the massacres of 2002, are still struggling to get justice." On 27 February 2002 the Sabarmati Express carnage took place at Godhra when a group of Muslims attacked and set fire to the train, on board which the Hindus returning from Ayodhya were traveling. Ayodhya is  the site of an ancient mosque seized by Hindus years ago . The attack - which killed 58 people - sparked violent riots in Gujarat, in which the Islamic community paid the highest price, with nearly 2 thousand victims.

In this regard, he stresses, "the UCIRF renewed its request to the U.S. government to ban the entry visa to Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat, explaining that there is sufficient evidence that connects him to the 2002 massacres". Modi has long been accused of conspiring in the fighting, for not taking any action to stop it and failing to establish any investigation. The U.S. denies him a visa to enter the country under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which denies visas to those individuals who have committed a serious infringement of religious freedom.

 

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