By Rakesh Raman
During his recent visit in India, the U.S. President Barack Obama did not mince his words when he expressed his concern over the communal violence and religious hatred in the country. He also suggested that the Indian government must ensure religious freedom for all its citizens.
But Obama would have hardly landed back in America when a Church in the Indian capital New Delhi was attacked by miscreants. The incident, which happened Monday, was among the many such attacks on minority communities during the past few months since the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India.
On Thursday, at the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama said, “Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji (Mahatma Gandhi), the person who helped to liberate that nation.”
[ Also Read: What Is the Future of Muslims in India? ]
Obama is naturally worried over the increasing cases of religious attacks in India, where nearly 80% (approximately 1 billion) people belong to the Hindu religion. Although minority communities never felt safe in India, the situation is going from bad to worse now.
Led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Hindu party BJP is hell-bent to make India a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu-only nation) – with no place for other religions.
Although Obama accepted Modi’s invitation to visit India last month, he shouldn’t have come here in order to persist with the U.S. stance against nations and people who are involved in human rights violations.
The U.S. administration always considered Modi as a person behind human rights violations in India and didn’t allow him to enter America. In 2002, Modi was the Chief Minister of India’s Gujarat state where 2,000 Muslims were murdered in communal riots besides there were incidents of rape, robbery, and widespread destruction of property affecting Muslims.
As a result, the U.S. administration denied visa to Modi in view of the allegations of human rights violations against him in the 2002 incidents of riots and carnage. But when he became Prime Minister of India, Modi was allowed by Obama administration to visit the USA.
It was a big victory for Modi, as America was the only major country that had denounced the Gujarat riots vehemently and held Modi responsible for the murder of Muslims. In order to further win the confidence of America, Modi cleverly invited Obama to visit India.
He had thought that Obama’s visit will be a kind of endorsement to his leadership and his party BJP’s attacks on minorities. But no. Obama has repeatedly expressed his disapproval to the growing communal tension in India. Obama is angry, but his anger may not be helpful to bring religious freedom for the people of India. Sad but true.
You also can read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman
Photo courtesy: White House