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US report lauds India for commitment to religious inclusion

By Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC
Last updated on: November 09, 2005 13:17 IST
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The Bush administration's annual International Religious Freedom Report has lauded New Delhi for improvements in this area from previous years and declared that the new Indian government has "demonstrated its commitment to a policy of religious inclusion at the highest levels of government and throughout society". 

The report for 2005, released Tuesday by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and sent up to the US Congress, also praised the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for taking steps "to address expeditiously the failures of the Gujarat state government to halt Hindu-Muslim riots there in 2002," and noted that "minority rights activists reported that instances of communal violence decreased as a result". 

It showered kudos on the government for its refusal to "approve the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Act, passed by the Gujarat legislature in June 2004, and which Muslim groups feared would be used selectively against them".

The report informed the US Congress that the Indian government had also repealed the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act, "often criticised by Muslim groups as a tool used to target them", and noted that this draconian measure had been replaced with a law "considered to be fairer to minorities". 

"The government also withdrew controversial school textbooks that had been condemned for espousing a Hindu nationalist agenda and replaced them with more more moderate editions," the report said, but acknowledged that "problems lingered in some states controlled by the opposition".

 

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC