West News Wire: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues cautioned on Thursday that due to the rise in religious nationalism, India runs the risk of becoming one of the primary sources of “instability, atrocities, and violence” worldwide. 

In a lecture sponsored by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Fernand de Varennes sounded the alarm in Washington, D.C. 

Because of the vast scope and severity of the abuses and violations mostly directed towards religious and other minorities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and others, he stated, “India risks becoming one of the world’s major generators of instability, atrocities, and violence.”

It is systematic and a manifestation of religious nationalism, not merely local or individual. 

Varenne issued his warning after Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, alleged that Indian “agents” had killed Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. 

The claim has strained relations between India and Canada, leading to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and travel warnings from each government to the other’s people. 

Human rights advocates claim that the US and other western governments are courting New Delhi as an ally against China while ignoring concerns about religious freedom in India.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a vocal advocate of Hindu nationalism, and his administration has been charged with using violence against religious minorities or condoning it. 

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum issued a warning last year about the growing dangers of mass crimes in India against religious minorities, and the US State Department criticised India for increasing violence against religious minorities in its 2022 Religious Freedom Report. 

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India’s rule over the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir has been a focal point of concern. 

In 2019, New Delhi revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution, the clause that granted Kashmir semi-autonomous status within the Indian Union. The same year, India also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act, which rights groups have argued violates India’s secular constitution by making religion a basis for citizenship. 

But religious activists have also noted a sharp uptick in violence targeting Christian communities. 

Varennes noted a video from the Indian state of Manipur home to a large Christian majority taken on 4 May that showed a mob forcing two Christian women to march naked on the street. Varennes said the two women from the Christian Kuki community had been “paraded naked, beaten and gang raped”. 

“There was inaction from authorities until this video caught the international attention,” he added. 

India, the world’s most populous country, is set to hold elections in 2024. Varennes warned that the targeting of minorities and human rights defenders will worsen as the election approaches. 

“Indian authorities have not taken any tangible steps to hold perpetrators of abuses against minorities to account. Indian authorities have not engaged constructively with criticism, boasting instead of democratic values and the rule of law,” he said. 

“Some senior leaders have either remained silent or have indeed contributed, through their own rhetoric, to the hostile environment against religious minorities.”  


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