Srinagar, August 17 (KMS): A U.S. panel on religious freedoms has placed India on its watch list of countries where such freedoms are at risk, noting that there has been a disturbing increase in violence against minorities in the country.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent congressionally mandated panel that provides recommendations to the government, said in a statement that India's response to attacks on Christians in the eastern state of Orissa in 2008 and against Muslims in western Gujarat state in 2002 was largely inadequate. The panel had recommended that India be placed on the more serious countries of particular concern list after the 2002 riots, but it was removed in 2005.
In Orissa's Kandhamal district, widespread trouble began in late August last year after the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a hard-line Hindu leader who advocated that Christian converts return to Hinduism. Police blamed local Maoist guerrillas for the killing, but Hindu militants quickly turned on local Christians and the rampages left at least 40 people dead, thousands homeless and dozen of churches destroyed.