On January 6th, 2021, Co-Founder of Hindu for Human Rights, Mr. Raju Rajagopal, made an essential plea to the incoming Biden-Harris Administration to reorganize the United States’ foreign policy agenda towards India to include human rights and religious freedom as non-negotiable goals. As has been recognized by domestic and international organizations alike, it is concerning to see the world’s largest democracy, India, fall to religious intolerance. Within just the past two years, the Indian government under Prime Minister Modi has enacted the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, nationalist Hindu mobs have wreaked havoc on the nation’s Muslim and Christian communities, and notable activists have been harassed by authorities.
Months ago, Jubilee Campaign, alongside numerous other organizations including Hindus for Human Rights, offered our gratitude to 14 United States senators that publicly called upon the State Department to follow USCIRF’s recommendation and designate India as a Country of Particular Concern for having “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom”. In December, we were disheartened to see that such a designation was not made; this lack of decisive action places unnecessary obstacles to holding India accountable for its egregious human rights and religious freedom violations.
Now, we echo the Mr. Rajagopal’s important plea to the United States government to tirelessly call upon India to (1) rescind discriminatory citizenship legislation; (2) dissolve legislation that de-legitimizes and questions inter-faith marriages; (3) unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience who have peacefully protested governmental policies; and (4) restore the rights of the Kashmiris to free assembly. In order for India to truly be recognized and lauded as the world’s largest democracy, religious intolerance, extremist Hindu nationalism, and unjust contraventions of personal liberties and legal protections must come to an end once and for all.
“We must not accept India’s stereotypical diplomatic comebacks that America has no right to speak about India’s ‘internal matters.’ Nor should we be satisfied with the retorts that use China or India’s immediate neighbors as foils to argue how much better off Indian democracy is. Like in the United States, the only acceptable benchmark is where the current rulers stand in fulfilling or betraying the promises made to all their citizens in their respective constitutions.“
“Let me close by underscoring that the Modi government has successfully co-opted almost all institutions of democracy designed to ensure political checks and balances. So, the only real remaining voice to ensure that the Indian political establishment truly cares about today is the voice from Washington.” – Raju Rajagopal, Co-Founder, Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR)
Now more than ever, it is essential for the United States to amplify our concerns regarding India’s violations of inalienable human rights and essential freedoms, if we hope to maintain a robust strategic partnership and see India thrive as a peaceful and secular nation.