Religious freedom is central to the dialogue between Washington and New Delhi
Christian leader: religious freedom is central to the dialogue between Washington and New Delhi
by Nirmala Carvalho
The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) backs a bipartisan US resolution concerning relations between the two countries. The United States is "concerned" about the violations of freedom of religion. India's political parties and religious organisations must "publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's general elections in 2014."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The US government should "include the matter of religious freedom as part of the bilateral Strategic Dialogue between India and the USA," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Speaking to AsiaNews, he expressed full support for a bipartisan resolution presented yesterday by two members of the US Congress. Keith Ellison, Democrat, and Joe Pitts, a Republican, sponsored the motion in which they express "concern" for attacks on religious freedom in India, an issue that must "be included in the United States-India Strategic Dialogue".
The GCIC, an organisation that report cases of persecution against minorities, judges in a positive way the initiative by the two US politicians. For its president, Sajan George, this is an opportunity to get "Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and other Indian states with anti-conversion laws to repeal such legislation and ensure freedom to practice, propagate, and profess ones' religion as enshrined in the Indian constitution."
In particular, the "GCIC in conjunction with the resolution urges all political parties and religious organisations to publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's general elections in 2014.
In a historic development, 15 US Congressmen called on the Obama administration to have "religious freedom and related human rights to be included in the United States-India Strategic Dialogue".
The resolution also highlights the "divisive and violent agenda" of the Hindu nationalist movement that "has harmed the social fabric of India", which is "contrary to the tolerant and pluralistic traditions of the Hindu faith".
Commending the US administration in placing a visa ban on Narendra Modi, the resolution acknowledges that under Mr Modi's rule in Gujarat, "minorities have suffered horrific violence, as well as attacks on their religious freedom through draconian anti-conversion laws".
In addition to the GCIC, the US resolution was backed by several groups, including the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a group of more than 40 organisations representing overseas Indians, including Hindus.