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Aug 13, 2009 at 03:13pm IST

US puts India with Somalia in minority report

Washington: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has placed India on its "Watch List" for New Delhi's largely inadequate response in protecting its religious minorities.

In a statement, USCIRF said India earned the Watch List designation due to the "disturbing increase" in communal violence against religious minorities – specifically Christians in Orissa in 2008 and Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 - and the largely inadequate response from the Indian government to protect the rights of religious minorities.

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"It is extremely disappointing that India, which has a multitude of religious communities, has done so little to protect and bring justice to its religious minorities under siege," said Leonard Leo, USCIRF chair.

USCIRF's India chapter was released this week to mark the first anniversary of the start of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa.

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Any country that is designated on the USCIRF "Watch List" requires "close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government."

Other countries currently on the Commission's Watch List are Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

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