by Ruth Kramer
Mission Network News
“It really does seem that religious freedom has taken a hit under the Modi administration,” observes Todd Nettleton, a spokesman for theVoice of the Martyrs USA. “The fact that India responded so aggressively to the report shows their desire to appear, within the international community, that they’re not persecuting Christians.”Nettleton goes on to explain that the details are from the 2015 Annual Report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “It is basically recommendations which then go to the State Department, and the State Department makes the final decisions about what to do with the report...”
...According to the report, minority religious groups, such as Christians, have been subject to “numerous violent attacks and forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups, such as RSS and VHP.” That claim was vigorously disputed by India’s External Affairs department.
Nettleton says, from their understanding of what’s happening on the ground, India should have been designated as a Country of Particular Concern: places where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are occurring. However, “They’re listed among what this report calls the ‘Tier 2′ countries, which don’t rise to the level of Countries of Particular Concern…. I honestly think India could have, particularly as we’ve seen an increase in the attacks and persecution since Prime Minister Modi took power last year.” It means India joins seven other countries being put on a watch list for problems but not quite earning the CPC designation (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey).