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US Congress to hold hearing on religious minorities in India

May 29, 2015 13:13 IST

A key United States Congressional committee has called for a public hearing on the rights and freedoms of religious minorities in India to be held early next month.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission has invited experts from India, the US and the United Kingdom to testify before it at the US Congress on June 3.

The hearing would be led by Congressman Patrick Meehan, co-chair of the American Sikh Caucus, Congressmen Joseph Pitts and Jim McGovern, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

No US government official would testify before the committee. This briefing will outline the important legal, social and cultural issues related to the persecution of minorities in India, according to a media report.

Panelists include Rev Joshva Raja, research supervisor, University of Amsterdam; Iqtidar Karamat Cheema, director, Institute for Leadership and Community Development, United Kingdom; and Professor Gurdarshan Sing Dhillon, professor of history (retired), Punjab University.

Sahar Chaudhry, senior policy analyst, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and John Sifton, Asia advocacy director, Human Rights Watch too would testify before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Committee.

The panelists will also make recommendations as to how the US can play a role to safeguard religious minorities in India and around the world, a statement of the committee said.

India's constitution guarantees that "all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion," it said.

However, attacks against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Dalits have increased in recent years, it alleged.   

A 2015 report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked the Obama Administration to press the Indian government to publicly rebuke officials and religious leaders who endorse these hateful acts, the committee said.

 

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