Statement on USCIRF Annual Report 2013 on Religious Freedom in Gujarat
The reality of religious freedom in Gujarat continues to find a significant place in yet another Annual Report of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF); the 2013 version of which was released in Washington yesterday.
The USCIRF reiterates its call to the US Government to maintain the ban on giving a visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi saying that there was enough evidence linking him to the Gujarat Carnage of 2002.
Modi was denied a visa by the US Government under its International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 which identifies individuals who severely violate religious freedom and thus bars them from entering the United States.
In Gujarat today, minorities are still treated as second-class citizens. The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Law 2003 is one the most draconian laws in the country which makes it obligatory for anyone who wishes to embrace another religion to first seek the permission of the civil authority. Today in several parts of Gujarat, police visit Christian Churches and demand that they inspect the Baptism Registers of the concerned Church.
All this, apart from the fact that the victim-survivors of 2002, are still struggling for justice.
While the USCIRF Annual Report maintains what it has been saying for the last many years, it once again brings to focus the fact that religious freedom is severely violated in Gujarat State.
Just as Gujarat is so eager and desperate to welcome foreign investments, tie-ups and accolades, in the very same spirit, this Report on ‘Religious Freedom’ needs to be welcomed by all!
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
1st May, 2013
- A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India