Washington: Uttar Pradesh saw the highest number of deaths in communal clashes in India in 2013, according to a US report which said the world last year witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory.
“Uttar Pradesh, the largest state (in India), experienced the highest number of deaths in communal unrest for the second consecutive year, including the 65 killed in Hindu-Muslim communal violence in Muzaffarnagar,” said the State Department in its annual Congressional-mandated ‘International Religious Freedom Report' for 2013, which was released by Secretary of State John Kerry.
In India, the report said, clashes in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh between Hindu and Muslim communities between late August and mid-September led to the deaths of 65 persons, 68 persons injured, and an estimated 40,000-50,000 displaced, it said.
According to the report, in 2013, the world witnessed the largest displacement of religious communities in recent memory.
In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs, it said.
All around the world, individuals were subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse, perpetrated and sanctioned violence for simply exercising their faith, identifying with a certain religion, or choosing not to believe in a higher deity at all, the report said.
Militants in Pakistan killed more than 400 Shia Muslims in sectarian attacks throughout the year and more than 80 Christians in a single church bombing; the government arrested and jailed a number of those responsible for sectarian attacks, but it generally failed to prevent attacks, the State Department said in its annual report.
In Pakistan, authorities continue to enforce blasphemy laws and laws designed to marginalize the Ahmadiyya Muslim community; these laws continued to restrict religious freedom, and remained the most visible symbols of religious intolerance, it added.
The State Department in its annual report said the Indian Government generally enforced legal protections for religious freedom; however, human rights activists criticized it for failing to respond effectively to some abuses committed by state and local authorities and private citizens.
Authorities implemented some restrictive laws and did not always efficiently or effectively prosecute those who attacked religious minorities.
There were reports of arrests but no convictions under the “anti-conversion laws,” it noted.
According to the report, the Gujarat government continued to expand the number of Muslim-dominated areas in Ahmedabad, the capital city, designated as “disturbed” under the law. During the year, authorities listed areas such as Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya, which were some of the neighboUrhoods worst affected by the 2002 riots, as “disturbed”.