United States Raps India Over Religious Freedom
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
On July 18, three Muslim students at St. John Baptist High in Thane, Maharashtra State, complained to police that their principal, Father Michael Pinto, ridiculed them for being Muslims. They said Pinto accused the students’ community of being behind terrorist attacks earlier in the year in France and Bangladesh. According to media sources, the principal also directed a Muslim teacher trainee not to wear a burqa while attending the school. The police took Pinto into custody but released him a short time later after his accusers declined to formally register a case against him.
On February 15, a 19-year-old Hindu woman, Neeraja, told News Minute website that the Muslim Educational Society Fathima Gafoor Memorial Women’s College, a minority institution located in Kozhikode, Kerala State, had barred her from entering its premises because she had married a Muslim. Neeraja alleged that the vice principal told her marrying outside her religion was an “unpardonable offense” per the college’s policy on interreligious marriage.
On June 6, St John’s Attamangalam Church near Kottayam, Kerala State denied permission for the burial of Madhu Jyotsana Akhauri on the grounds she had married a Hindu. Authorities told the media the church had disowned Akhauri because she had lived as a Hindu. Akhauri was later buried at St. Thomas Jacobite Church in Ponkunnam in the same district.
According to the Commission for Minorities for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States, the commission received complaints about the demolition of a cross and altar in an Agape Gospel Church in Nazempet Village, an area where there had been conversions to Christianity. The commission stated it had also received several other complaints of illegal occupation of Christian and Muslim community properties, including graveyards. The commission, which collected data on incidents but lacked enforcement powers, said most local government officials failed to address complaints by religious minorities.
In June Hindu residents of Vadodara, Gujarat State petitioned the civic authorities to stop the relocation to the city of 218 displaced families (primarily Muslims) under a government housing initiative for the urban poor.
According to media reports, in June Manu Dabhi, a Dalit land owner in Ahmedabad, Gujarat State, refused to sign a note promising never to sell his land to a Muslim, as residents, with the support of VHP, had pressured him to do. Dabhi’s employer, a Muslim, denied residents’ charges he was using Dabhi as a front to own the land. The neighborhood where the property was located required legal permission of authorities to transfer real estate between owners of different faiths.
On September 19, Mumbai police arrested nine members of a housing association in Vasai, a Mumbai suburb, after a Muslim buyer, Vikar Ahmad Khan, objected to the association's unofficial policy prohibiting house sales to Muslims. On September 20, the housing association reversed its previous policy and allowed Khan to buy an apartment. The association also issued an apology to Khan. The arrested members were later released.
On October 4, Mumbai police arrested Barun Kashyap, alleging he falsely reported cow vigilante harassment in social media postings. Mumbai police investigating the incident charged Kashyap with fabricating the complaint and promoting enmity between Hindus and Muslims. At year’s end Kashyap was free on bail pending trial.
On August 29, Muslim leaders of Dakshina Kannada District in Karnataka State said male students of Dr. K. Shivaram Karanth Government First Grade College in Bellare Village began wearing saffron shawls around their necks at the college in protest against female Muslim students wearing headscarves. Of the college’s 492 students, 19 were Muslim, including 15 females. According to a local Hindu leader, after a meeting of parents and teachers, the boys agreed not to wear saffron shawls and the Muslim girls not to wear headscarves inside the college.”
Read the full report here.
Part one here.
(Cover photo: Protester at the #NotInMyName rally in India)