Indian Catholic News

UN Rapporteur hears accounts of Gujarat’s 2002 riots

Father Cedric Prakash said that the visit served to “lift the veil of silence which has covered massacres committed in the past as well as present day conditions.”

 
File photo--Gujarat riot in 2002.
Ahmedabad: 

The UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of religion last Sunday met with members of Muslim community, civil society groups and others of India’s Gujarat state where widespread anti-Muslim riots took place in 2002.

Father Cedric Prakash, Director of NGO called Prashant Human Rights Centre, said that the visit served to “lift the veil of silence which has covered massacres committed in the past as well as present day conditions.”

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, under whose watch the riots took place and who has been accused by rights groups of complicity in the riots, is the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the national elections expected to take place in stages this April and May.

The civil society organisations which met the UN Rapporteur included Christian associations and groups, some of which were started by the Jesuit Fathers.

The United Nations Organisation wished to guarantee right of freedom of religion ratified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and respected the life of the people of Gujarat and elsewhere in India, Special Rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt said at the end of his visit.

Bielefeldt listened to testimony and experiences of survivors and witnesses of anti-Muslim massacres in Gujarat in 2002 and those who faced attacks on Christians reported from the state from 1998-99 onwards.

Reports presented to the UN Rapporteur regarding the present situation dwelt also on a Gujarat state law (‘anti-conversion’) passed in 2003, “strangely called ‘Law on Religious Freedom’, one of the most draconian bills in the history of India,” said Father Prakash.

“Programmes for religious reconversion launched by fundamentalists and nationalists, fully backed by Gujarat state government, are proof of how minority communities of Gujarat are continually discriminated against and penalised,” he said.

Source: Fides

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