Kandhamal Obsession Taints America’s Vision

For the second consecutive year, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has seen the communal situation in India — particularly in Kandhamal district — through tinted glass. In 2008, in the aftermath of anti-Christian riots that claimed 18 lives in Kandhamal, the US watchdog had put the country under the harsher CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) which even attracts sanctions. This time the body parroted what it has been saying — attacks on minority faiths are routine in India. And that local and state authorities often abet if not aid religious attacks. The commission also does not forget to say, as it has done earlier, that justice for the victims has been not effective. But its own members have put dissenting notes arguing such accusation flies in the face of evidence of serious measures.

For the second consecutive year, the U. S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has seen the communal situation in In India- particularly in Kandhamal district through tinted glass. In 2008, in the aftermath of anti-Christian riots that claimed 187 lives  in Kandhamal the US watchdog has put the country under the harsher CPC (Countries of Particular Concern) which even attracts sanctions. This time the body parroted what it has been saying – attacks on minority faiths are routine in India. And that local and state authorities often abet if not aid religious attacks. The commission also does not forget to say, as it had done earlier, that justice for the victims has not been effective. But its own members  have put dissenting notes arguing that such accusation flies in the face of evidence of serious measures.

It has not got its facts right. Probably a reason why the government on two occasions did not allow visa for its members to visit Kandhamal. The Centre was also initially hesitant to let in the European Union delegates who had jumped to embarrassing conclusions in the backdrop of Kandhamal.

The commission has also not been comfortable with India’s anti-conversion laws. Orissa is one of the few states to have enacted strict legislation that forbids change of religion through inducement or coercion. Kandhamal remains a hotbed of conversion often triggering social tension. But the ground reality does not get a critical analysis by the commission. Its report, bracketing Kandhamal with Gujarat and anti-Sikh riots, betrays the usual bias and needs to be consigned to the dustbin. It is strange that the country which sees India as a potential counter-weight to China, puts Delhi on the same trail as Beijing on human rights issue.

The New Indian Express 29 Apr 2011 10:26:00 PM IST http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/editorials/kandhamal-obsession-taints-america%E2%80%99s-vision/270171.html

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