USCIRF, NHRC & KSHRC should strictly deal also with religious intolerance of minorities. By Hem Raj Jain

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India is not an ordinary country. It is not merely a country of about 1.35 billion people but it is the only secular democratic country in this region. Therefore, if anything comes in the way of secularism in India (through religious intolerance) then it should be a matter of concern for liberal world and especially for the leader of the free world, the USA.

In consonance with its mandate of ensuring religious freedom all over the world the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) has been issuing statements on threat to religious freedom in India. Moreover ‘National Human Rights Commission’ (NHRC) and  ‘Karnataka State Human Rights Commission’ (KSHRC) are responsible for protecting human rights of the people as enshrined in the Constitution of India about rights to religion as well as freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in UN Human Rights Laws (ICCPR) too.

It is not only the religious intolerance of majority community (the Hindus) which is responsible for poisoning communal atmosphere in India [which is reflected especially through (i)- Babri Masjid Case (ii)- what India did on and after August 5, 2019 in J&K where Muslim Kashmiris are facing lock down since then and its political activists are detained or jailed and (iii)- ‘Citizen Amendment Act’ (CAA)  coupled with threatened ‘National Register for Citizens’ (NRC) which triggered riots also in Delhi in presence of President Trump who visited India in February 2020] but even the minority community (about 200 million strong in India) has also been responsible for religious intolerance in India.

Recent such a case has happened in Bengaluru (in the State of Karnataka) on August 11 in which Muslims resorted to group violence as reported also at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/india-deadly-violence-breaks-bengaluru-facebook-post-200812033701368.html . The USCIRF, NHRC & KSHRC should take cognizance of this matter if they really want to protect the human rights of the people in India especially given the fact that by taking excuse of some derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad the Muslims not only in India but all over the world resort to violence.

We should not forget that Prophet Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad lived about 2020 years back and about 1388 years back respectively in periods which is comparatively very recent and when recorded history was prevalent all over the world. Therefore their lives are bound to be under scrutiny (not merely by some miscreants who may have ulterior motives but) even by the sincere followers of their religions who want an honest analysis of what these Prophets said and practiced in their own lives.

Therefore any remark about Prophet Muhammad (perceived to be derogatory by fanatic Muslim followers) should not be allowed to be termed as a crime (merely on a complaint by so-called aggrieved Muslims) rather the person who makes such remarks (in this case a tweeter at Bengaluru) should be booked for criminal offence only after:- 

(A)- Making this tweet public by Governments of India & Karnataka through prominent media so that it can be thoroughly discussed by people in the entire country and even globally in this age of globalization

(B)- Ensuring that the freedom of speech & expression of so-called offender (enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution) is not denied to him by taking UNTENABLE excuse of protecting (irrational & senseless) religious freedom of the so-called offended.

The Karnataka Police should take legally expected action against Muslim mob which attacked the Police Station, public & private properties but it can’t be expected (given past record of India) to do justice in a case with such communally polarized atmosphere having serious political ramifications [given the fact that BJP came in power at Centre and in many States (presently in Karnataka too) only through communal politics after demolishing Babri Masjid in 1992 not merely with impunity but also rewards].

Therefore it is hoped that the USCIRF, NHRC & KSHRC will not confine their microscopic gaze only on religious intolerance & communalism of the majority community, the Hindus and instead will ensure that:-

(1)- All the Muslims physically & otherwise involved in said mob violence of August 11 in Bengaluru are prosecuted as per law.

(2)-  This Bengaluru tweeter is booked and tried under criminal law only if he has made remarks about Prophet Muhammad which are irrelevant for religious analysis and are not based on facts.

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