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Religion-based violence major rights problem for India: US

john kerry

Washington: Religion-based societal violence in India was the “most significant” human rights problem in the country in 2014, besides “widespread corruption” and abuses by police and security force, according to a US State Department report.

In its annual Congressionally-mandated ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014′, the lengthy India section mentions a number of issues, including arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearances, hazardous prison conditions, and lengthy pretrial detention.

All this, before the report goes on to note that the “judiciary remained backlogged, leading to lengthy delays and the denial of due process” last year.

“The most significant human rights problems were police and security force abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape; widespread corruption that contributed to ineffective responses to crime, including those against women and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe,” it said.

The report, released by US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, cites another report submitted to the government by three senior police officials from Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu, and an IB representative entitled ‘Strategy for Making Police Forces More Sensitive Towards Minority Sections’.

“This report acknowledged bias within the police force against Muslims and reported the Muslim perception of police as ‘communal, biased, and insensitive’,” it said.

Between May and July, in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, approximately 50 village councils passed resolutions banning non-Hindu religious “propaganda”, prayers, and speeches in their villages, the report said.

Social media posts triggered communal violence in Pune, Maharashtra, beginning on May 30, with multiple arson attacks on Muslim-owned shops and mosques and an assault against a Muslim cleric, it added.

On June 2, a group beat to death Mohsin Shaikh, who was returning from prayers in Pune. The attackers allegedly targeted him for his “Muslim appearance”. Police arrested members of the Hindu Rashtra Samiti in connection with the violence and pressed murder charges against its chief, Dhananjay Desai, the report noted.

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