India is a constitutional democracy with a socialist and secular character for ensuring equal rights and equal protection of law to all its citizens without any prejudice. We have been a tolerant and inclusive nation but in the recent past religious minorities and other minority groups have severely suffered from persecution, discrimination, and systemic marginalisation.
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR), a human rights group that monitors and documents violence against religious minorities, organised a joint press conference of religious leaders from Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities and other social activists at Pink City School of Jaipur on January 18.
The press meet was an attempt to bring into light the deplorable state of minorities in India and to build solidarity among the persecuted communities that are deprived of their rights with the rise of Hindutva extremism.
Advocate Syed Saadat Ali, President Rajasthan chapter of APCR, urged the justice-loving citizenry of the country to come forward in support of the victims of violence, in word and spirit.
He further stated, “We are a secular nation and every citizen has the right to profess, practise and propagate the faith or belief of his choice but some people want to rip off these rights to serve their self-interests.”
Bishop Oswald Lewis, President Jaipur Christian Diocese, said, “We all have lived together in India for centuries with love and brotherhood. The pinnacle of an atmosphere of hatred and divisiveness between communities is worrisome and it’s our duty to take back India on the path of development through love and harmony.
State President Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Muhammad Nazimuddin stressed on the point that since the independence of the country, a group has been angry at the framers of the Constitution, and Mahatma Gandhi, who preferred India to be a secular nation and guaranteed equal rights to all its citizens.
“Though India has been facing the brunt of thousands of communal riots for decades, losing precious human lives and destroying public and private properties but the recent surge in the attacks against Christians and Muslims across the country is alarming. These incidents are the by-products of the constant efforts of certain groups, enjoying the state impunity to marginalise minorities through their systemic hate and vilification campaigns,” he said.
State President Indian Buddhist Mahasabha, T.C. Rahul said, “Our country is multi-religious, non-Hindu people have been living in the country for thousands of years, but as the atmosphere of hatred has been created today, attack on any religious community is fatal for the unity and integrity of India.”
Sawai Singh, State President Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity (FDCA), said, “Today some people in the garb of religion are preaching hatred but it seems they don’t have the knowledge of religion at all. This trend is very dangerous and people from all faith and communities must stand in unity to resist the sinister plans of these hatemongers.”
In the conference, the Hindi version of APCR 2021 reports documenting violence against Christians and Muslims were also released to substantiate the claims with facts and figures. A report titled “Christians Under Attack in India”, a joint initiative of the United Christians Forum (UCF), APCR and United Against Hate (UAH), which documents more than 300 incidents of violence against Christians that took place in the first nine months of 2021, was also released.
Another report documents the state excesses unleashed during an eviction drive in Assam’s Darrang district last year which left two people dead and around 20 injured, and alleges police of using excessive force against the displaced people who are from the Muslim community to ensure unlawful eviction without following the due process of law.
APCR has been advocating against hate speech and hate crimes for a long time to mitigate the menace of hatred in the country. It also provides legal assistance to victims of hate-based crimes and discrimination. It is working to preserve the Constitution to harness justice for all.