U.N. report says real risk of Indian religious strife

February 11, 2009

It did not get great publicity but a recent U.N. report on religious freedom in India offers a stinging image of a country suffering from communal divisions and mob-inspired religious persecution.

 It argues there is a very real risk of a repeat of a tragedy like the Gujarat riots of 2002, when more than 2,000 people, mainly Muslims,were killed by Hindu mobs.

The U.S. Special Rapporteur of religion or belief Asma Jahangir, a well-respected Pakistani human rights activist, travelled to India last March to prepare the report. It catalogues violence and discrimination faced by India’s religious minorities, whether Muslim or Christian or Sikh.

“Organised groups claiming roots in religious ideologies have unleashed all pervasive fear of mob violence in many parts of the country.” the report, released on Jan. 26, says.

 “There is at present a real risk that similar communal violence might happen again unless political exploitation of communal distinctions is effectively prevented,”

The report makes special mention of Gujarat,. It says the Hindu nationalist state government of Gujarat — headed by Narendra Modi and a favourite of many Indian business leaders—has done little to help victims who still live in fear of persecution.

Indeed, it says there is “is increasing ghettoization andisolation of Muslims in certain areas of Gujarat.”

The report comes after a series of incidents in India that have sparked widespread worries about the rise of religious mob violence.

Last month Hindu militants attacked a bar and assaulted women in the city of Mangalore in the Hindu nationalist-run Karnataka state. The militants – labelled the “Indian Taleban” by media – said they were trying to safeguard Indian culture.

Last year, dozens of mainly poor tribal Christians in the eastern state of Orissa were killed by Hindu mobs over the issues of religious conversion.  

 With general elections due by May, the political atmosphere is already charged with religious rhetoric. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party says it wants to rebuild a Hindu temple on Ayodhya, where a mosque was razed by Hindu mobs in 1992.

The report is a timely reminder that despite all the talk of a global India, religious tension may be as pervasive as ever — especially when political parties are vying for political power.



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my gods bigger than your god.

Posted by me here | Report as abusive

All the above mentioned thing is wrong…It is just to done the bad publicity of India.

Posted by Ankur | Report as abusive

Ya this is really shame that some body from pakistan came and showing our reality. This is coz we dont have right media to show the fact, Indian media is much wider and stronger in the world, but every boday knows that they become a comercial more then a true informer. they show only what makes them money.
Friends India is very beautiful and diplomatic country in the world, But the same time we have the most worst and shamefull politician also. they are doing all this for there position, and we are fools who react.
So Don’t be bias we all know what is fact the only thing is to come across together and fight with all these conflicts.
Any Hindu party like Shivsena etc or Muslim,s Taliban are working for there benefits. All the top leaders of these organization are same and good friends and they planing togather how to make the Controversy for there benefit.
Im working in USA but ,Being a muslim of India I love my country and proud to be an INDIA.
Sare Jahan se Accha Hindustan hamara.
Wish u all of us a Very Happy Indian Family.

The report may not be held invalid or unreliable just because the author is a Pakistani national. However the excerpts of report is not mentioned in the above article. And to call the mobs “Hindu” mobs is wrong and misrepresentation of facts, Hinduism is a way of life based on secular thinking and tolerance. Just because some hooligans with fascist attitude and their power, popularity and money hungry leaders trigger people to these kind of activities by misinterpreting Hinduism and Hindu ways of thoughts the miscreants cannot be la belled as Hindu mobs and Hindu terrorists and Hinduism(in that case any religion) cannot be maligned by such articles or news, especially by agencies like Reuters who enjoy and claim reliability and popularity of a mammoth scale.

Posted by SiD | Report as abusive

Although it hurts that it takes someone from the neighboring country to show the true picture, there can be no denying of the same. It is a fact that we have increasing talibanisation by these so called hindu activists who do everything totally opposite to what hinduism preaches. I personally feel that the level of tolerism has gone really down and the politicians know only how to play divisive politics which is resulting in these kind of incidences. Asma Jahangir although from Pakistan is a human rights activist and a very respected one at that and therefore, her report has to be credible. I hope the Indian media stops its sensationalistic news and looks at some real news for a change.

Posted by satyan | Report as abusive

@ Prakash I thing you have only superficial knowledge about religions. As far as I know Hindu religion is the most liberal religion in the word. If u look into the current position, any one who believes in various gods can be Hindu, any one who believes in only one god or almighty can be Hindu, even if he don’t believe in any god can be Hindu. any one who eats meat or drink alcohol can be Hindu, who don’t eat meat and alcohol can be Hindu. U can take any mode of praying, u can follow any religious test, u can do what ever u like , U can be Hindu.

This is why there are so many god of Hindus. This religion is not based on thinking or preaching of one person or self proclaimed gods. It is evolved in thousands of years.

I accept that there is bad thing in everywhere like caste system in this religion but with the time it is changing and Hindus always accepted changes that are why they survived through a long time.

Now if Christians do in the name of Crusades it is Ok. Muslims do in the name of jihad it is ok. Jews do in the name of there Nation it is ok but if a Hindu just speak for his religion, he is anti secular. If we use ‘Vande Matram’ (Salute to our Mother Country) it is anti secular and well criticizes by other Hindus because there is so much freedom. And if I worship my country as goddess or I try to protect my this independence by foreseeing the future (what happened with Indonesia, Malaysia and what going on in small African countries that can happen with India), we are anti secular.

This all propaganda is against our nation not the religion. If they believe in secularism or human rights so deeply why they don’t teach Saudi Arabia or Israel or Pakistan.

Posted by Only Indian | Report as abusive

They didnt find any one other than Azma Jehangir. We expect the same from a Pakistani Academician going to write about India’s religious harmony.

Only a section of media and self-seeking politicians(including those in the Government) are whipping up religious tensions in India for sensationalism and cheap gains.Even the much-maligned BJP has to garner votes from Muslim brethren for its survival as an all-India party.This report is needlessly alarmist.

Posted by N.K.Jha | Report as abusive

I’m not Muslim, Hindu,or any other faith. I was born into the christian faith but I have grown up since then.
The sooner people realise that all religion and I mean ALL, is a man made weapon to control and brainwash people into doing as they are told by people who crave power over others (sometimes giving death sentences for little or no other reason than they can)and as a means of getting money out of hard working people to enrich themselves, the sooner half the wars of the world will be eliminated. It was man who created religion not god. Its those same men who abuse what may fundamently have been created with good intention. Its time religion was brought into the 21st century and made obsolete in favour of a teaching of responsibility for our actions and caring in the community and family.

Posted by KRISSIE | Report as abusive

I have to agree with Kokamal Biased. I mean Islam is basically a terrorist religion teaching 200 ways to butcher innocents in some random country while Hinduism isn’t. So yes, all religions are not same.

Posted by Nikhil | Report as abusive

@ Krissie
I’m not Muslim, Hindu, or any other faith. I was born into the Christian faith but I have grown up since then.

–Swami Vivekananda, during late 1800s, in New York, told enthusiastic Americans not to bother to convert to Hinduism but instead encouraged them to read Gita and Vedas to become better Christians.

These thoroughly researched spiritual scriptures will provide insight into meaning of our existence in the universe. They do not separate people or encourage hatred. There is no crusade or Jihad element in them. Even atheists find them clearly acceptable. A certain IQ level makes it easy to understand the underlying concepts. You cannot ignore an established scientific research and start reinventing wheel, there simply is no need.

I have to agree with Kokamal Biased. I mean Islam is basically a terrorist religion teaching 200 ways to butcher innocents in some random country while Hinduism isn’t. So yes, all religions are not same.
- Posted by Nikhil

-Nikhil, then include all 3 Abrahamic religions as violent. Islam is lagging since Christanity already did that long time ago. It is crusade in Christanity and Jihad in Islam. Romans and pagans faced death and destruction by Christanity. The frescoes and paintings in Vatican and the ruins and the temples in Rome tell the story. Palestinians say that about Jews. I take cold bloooded murder of 100,000 (?) and so on…. in Iraq as an act of terrorism by USA, supposed to be secular but Church influenced in reality.

I feel there are 2 things for this: 1. expansionist tendencies due to conversion and 2. intolerance arising out of superiority complex (there is only 1 God and other faiths are wrong).

But I agree all religions are not the same.

@Its time religion was brought into the 21st century and made obsolete in favour of a teaching of responsibility for our actions and caring in the community and family.
–I understand you preaching atheism (which is OK). But is it your own conclusion or you believe in some atheist and got influenced, which is not any different from falling a religion. You can give a blanket statement by including all religions, but do you know all religions? But I can understand what you are trying to say.
An interesting link for you:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/artic leshow/msid-132248,prtpage-1.cms

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I did not say clearly that rationally speaking, if you have not read these holy books, then it is hard to criticize.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

Apropos your news item on UN Report On India, I just showed bias on the part of Ms Asma Jehangir based on her views on Kashmir.

As far as Hindus are concerned, the ONLY positive thing about them is that they do not proselytize as Christians do and they don’t want to establish the “Rule of their GOD” as Muslims want. Hindus don’t care what others’ religious beliefs are and how do others go about it. Hindus DO NOT need sermons on religious tolerance from followers of Abrahimic religions.

The communal violence is being dealt with by courts and/or by the law enforcement agencies.

Posted by Kokamal Biased | Report as abusive

I agree with what Krissie said about organised religions being political tool. I don’t think jesus wanted to found a religion. religion is a concept is not very old must be 2000 years old or little more than that.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Whether it is written by a Pakistani or Indian, there is some truth in the report. Although it does not address the reasons causing these tensions. The real situation is not always black and white. Though it doesn’t give the right to kill Christians in Orissa, doesn’t mean they are innocent. Christians have been enticing poor Hindus to convert to Christianity. This isn’t right either. Why don’t we hear about Buddhists, Jews or Sikhs being attacked by Hindus these days? Why is it just on Muslims and Christians? Makes me think about it….

Posted by Munavalli | Report as abusive