Narendra Modi was banned from entering the United States since 2005, up until his election to the Prime Minister's post, under the International Religious Freedom Act, for his "egregious violations of religious freedom." The law continues to be on the statute books, and its application in the case of Mr. Modi was sound. However, Mr. Modi is now able to visit the United States, under exemptions normally accorded to heads of state.
CAG has called for the law to be applied to other officials in the Indian administration, such as Mr. Amit Shah, who was only recently implicated in a case of hate speech that contributed to the sectarian violence in Muzaffarnagar in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
"The first 100 days of Mr. Modi's tenure as PM have shown to the world the grave dangers posed by the Hindutva ideology to pluralism and the rule of law," said Dr. Raja Swamy, a spokesperson for CAG. "Since the national elections that brought Modi's party to power, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh alone has witnessed over 600 incidents against the Muslim minority," added Dr. Swamy.
The fact that the growing intolerance under the new dispensation is tearing apart India's social fabric is evident from the following:
A relentless hate campaign against minorities fanned by Parliamentarians from Mr. Modi's own party includes conspiracy theories of Muslims luring Hindu girls into marriage as a form of "love jihad," and the characterizing of madrassas (Islamic religious schools) as dens of terrorism. This has inflamed sectarian feelings and created a sense of siege among minorities.
In BJP-ruled states, draconian laws have been instituted to specifically target Christians. In 50 villages of Chhattisgarh, practice of Christianity has been banned. Tellingly, the Modi administration has remained silent on the growing atmosphere of repression threatening Christians in India, including the forced "re-conversions" of some Christians to Hinduism.
In August, Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the RSS (India's largest Hindu nationalist militia), declared Sikh, Jains and Buddhists, widely recognized as distinct religious communities, as part of Hindu society. He further declared anyone who treated them as distinct religious communities as conspiring against Hinduism. This attack on religious freedom, denying three religious communities even the right of self-identification, went unchallenged by anyone in Mr. Modi's administration.
The Intelligence Bureau of India, which now directly reports to Mr. Modi, has issued a report identifying key human rights, educational and environmental NGOs as anti-national groups hindering the development of India. These groups include Amnesty International, Greenpeace and CORDAID. The Indian government has blocked overseas funding for Amnesty International. Likewise, grants for local NGOs have also been blocked in what can result in a serious erosion of civil rights culture in India.
"Mr. Modi's silence in the face of the hate campaign launched by Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj, and the suppression of relgious freedom and civil liberties, is a sign of either his quiet acquiescence or tacit endorsement of such tactics" said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, a spokesperson for CAG. "Either way, it betrays his unwillingness to go beyond the confines of the Hindutva ideology of which he has been a lifelong proponent," said Dr. Ubaid.
CAG is a broad-based coalition representing a diverse cross section of the religious and political spectrum of the Indian diaspora, including Hindu and other faith-based organizations. The coalition is committed to democracy, pluralism and to the preservation of the idea of India.