Washington: Ahead of India’s general election, an influential US Congressional committee has called for a hearing on the state of religious minorities in the country.
“The hearing will focus on the human rights situation for religious minorities in India. In addition, the witnesses will provide recommendations for US foreign policy in relation to India,” said the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress in its announcement of the congressional hearing on April 4.
John Dayal, a member of India’s National Integration Council, has been invited to testify before the congressional committee for its hearing on “The Plight of Religious Minorities in India”.
Other witnesses are Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom; John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch and Robin Phillips, executive director, The Advocates for Human Rights.
The Lantos Human Rights Committee said in the months leading up to India’s 2014 national election, there has been a rise in acts of violence targeting religious minorities and an increase in discriminatory rhetoric that has polarised national politics along religious and class lines.
“Underlying problems have been exacerbated by the implementation of ‘Freedom of Religion Acts’ across five Indian states, which have led to higher reported incidents of intimidation, discrimination, harassment, and violence against minorities,” it said.
“As the 2014 Indian election draws closer, it is important to examine the implications of this polarisation in the context of the US-India relationship,” the committee said.