The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom lists India on their Watch List in their Annual Report 2012:
India: Progress in achieving justice for victims of past large-scale incidents of communal violence in India continued to be slow and ineffective. In addition, intimidation, harassment, and occasional small-scale violence against members of religious minority groups continued, particularly against Christians in states with anti-conversion laws. While there has been no large-scale communal violence against religious minorities since 2008, and despite the Indian government‘s recognition of past communal violence and the creation of some structures at various levels to address these issues, the deleterious pace of the judicial responses and the adopted anti-conversion laws enable impunity.
This evaluation by the Commission places India alongside countries such as Afghanistan, Russia and Cuba in their survey of international religious freedom issues. There was one dissenting opinion within the Commission in regard to placing India on this list, who acknowledges recent moves within India to support its religious minorities. However, as far back as 2000, the Commission has communicated concerns about the religious rights and freedoms of minorities in India, and a dozen years later still continues to do so.
Three examples of slow and inefficient progress for justice have been cited specifically in the report:
- the 1984 Sikh pogroms in New Delhi and across India
- the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat
- the 2007-2008 attacks on Christians in Orissa
This lack of justice, and indeed, the impunity for the perpetrators of these atrocities is at the heart of the international protests by Sikhs of the death sentence (currently stayed) of Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana. The lack of justice for the deaths of thousands of Sikhs (and other religious minorities) implies a double standard of justice within India and is not only itself a longstanding issue – for Sikhs, it is now approaching its third decade – but is added to the list of grievances the Sikh community has in terms of its treatment by the Indian state.
This is a key and telling omission on the part of high profile writers in western media who are all-to-quick to ascribe the protests to extremists and radicals within the Sikh community in the west, and minimize the legitimate human rights grievances that are acknowledged by this US Commission and human rights organizations around the world.