Text: H.Res.417 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (11/18/2013)

[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Res. 417 Introduced in House (IH)]

  1st Session
H. RES. 417

 Praising India's rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance 
   and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and 
                   freedoms of religious minorities.



                           November 18, 2013

   Mr. Pitts (for himself, Mr. Ellison, Mr. Chabot, Mr. Conyers, Mr. 
  Sensenbrenner, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Sires, Mr. Meadows, Mr. 
 Moran, Mr. Huelskamp, Mr. Lewis, Ms. McCollum, Mr. Grijalva, and Mr. 
 Polis) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the 
 Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on the 
 Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, 
 in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the 
                jurisdiction of the committee concerned



 Praising India's rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance 
   and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and 
                   freedoms of religious minorities.

Whereas India is the world's largest democracy, with a constitution that 
        protects the fundamental rights of all citizens, including the right of 
        each citizen to profess, propagate, and practice his or her own 
Whereas India is the birthplace of several of the world's great religions, 
        including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism;
Whereas India and the United States enjoy a strong historic relationship and 
        believe deeply in the causes of liberty, justice, and equality under the 
Whereas India and the United States have rich multiethnic societies and share a 
        commitment to the values of tolerance, pluralism, and religious 
Whereas the population of India includes a Hindu majority, the third largest 
        Muslim population in the world, a Christian population of more than 
        25,000,000, a Sikh population of more than 19,000,000, and dozens of 
        other faiths;
Whereas contrary to the tolerant and pluralistic traditions of the Hindu faith, 
        strands of the Hindu nationalist movement have advanced a divisive and 
        violent agenda that has harmed the social fabric of India;
Whereas on December 6, 1992, a large mob destroyed the historic 16th-century 
        Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, which was located on a site claimed to be the 
        birthplace of the Hindu god Rama;
Whereas according to the Congressional Research Service, ``ensuing communal 
        riots left many hundreds dead in cities across India'' and ``Mumbai was 
        especially hard hit as the site of coordinated 1993 terrorist bombings 
        believed to have been a retaliatory strike by Muslims'';
Whereas on February 27, 2002, in the city of Godhra in the western state of 
        Gujarat, India, 58 Hindus were burnt alive in a train coach fire, and 
        communal violence erupted in several Gujarati cities;
Whereas in the International Religious Freedom Report of 2003, the United States 
        Department of State found that ``In Gujarat the worst religious violence 
        directed against Muslims by Hindus took place in February and March 
        2002, leaving an estimated 2,000 dead and 100,000 displaced into refugee 
        camps . . . Christians were also victims in Gujarat, and many churches 
        were destroyed'';
Whereas the Indian magazine Tehelka reported that many of the people who 
        participated in the violence said it was possible only because of the 
        connivance of the state police and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi;
Whereas the United States Government denied Minister Modi a visa to the United 
        States in 2005 on the grounds of egregious religious freedom violations 
        under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the first and 
        only time such a denial has been issued;
Whereas 10 years after the violence took place, Human Rights Watch reported on 
        February 24, 2012, that ``Modi has acted against whistleblowers while 
        making no effort to prosecute those responsible for the anti-Muslim 
        violence . . . Where justice has been delivered in Gujarat, it has been 
        in spite of the state government, not because of it.'';
Whereas 10 years after the violence took place, Amnesty International reported 
        on February 29, 2012, that at least 21,000 survivors and relatives of 
        the victims remained in 19 transit relief camps;
Whereas violence broke out between Christians and Hindus in the eastern state of 
        Odisha in December 2007, with significant rioting and looting of shops 
        and churches and more than 1,000 people displaced from their homes;
Whereas the August 2008 murder of a prominent Hindu leader of Vishwa Hindu 
        Parishad in Odisha sparked a violent campaign against Christians, 
        although Maoist extremists claimed responsibility for the assassination;
Whereas the United States Department of State reported that 40 people were 
        killed, 134 were injured, churches and homes were destroyed, and more 
        than 10,000 people fled the state;
Whereas the Associated Press reported at the time that the violence provided ``a 
        window into India's hidden fragility, its sometimes dangerous political 
        climate, and the fierce historical divisions buried in its vast 
Whereas according to the United States Commission on International Religious 
        Freedom (USCIRF), there was no immediate police or state government 
        reaction to the Odisha violence, and religious leaders and aid agencies 
        were denied access to provide care for the victims;
Whereas the National Solidarity Forum, an independent Indian tribunal of former 
        judges, journalists, and political analysts, concluded in 2010 that 
        institutional bias on the part of the Odisha state government, its 
        police, and judicial system, led to a lack of justice and 
Whereas the All India Christian Council, an Indian nongovernmental organization, 
        reported in 2012 that state police documented an estimated 3,500 
        complaints related to the 2007 to 2008 Odisha violence, but only 827 
        cases were registered with local or state court structures;
Whereas USCIRF found that the investigative and court structures the Government 
        of India created in response to the communal violence in Gujarat and 
        Odisha failed to end intimidation, harassment, and violence against 
        religious minorities;
Whereas according to a 2012 report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on 
        Religion & Public Life, India falls into a ``high'' category for 
        government restrictions on religion and a ``very high'' category for 
        religious social hostilities;
Whereas nongovernmental organizations and Christian, Muslim, and Sikh 
        communities reported an increase in religiously motivated harassment and 
        violence over the last 2 years, and expect it to increase in advance of 
        the 2014 general elections;
Whereas on August 27, 2013, communal violence erupted in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar 
        Pradesh, India's most populous state, with more than 60 Muslims and 
        Hindus killed, 50,000 people displaced, and thousands remaining in 
        relief camps 2 months later;
Whereas on September 18, 2013, a local court in Muzaffarnagar issued arrest 
        warrants against 16 politicians and community leaders, including Bahujan 
        Samaj Party parliamentarian Qadir Rana and Bharatiya Janata Party 
        Legislative Assembly members Sangeet Som and Bhartendu Singh for 
        inciting the violence;
Whereas several states have ``Freedom-of-Religion Laws'', commonly referred to 
        as anticonversion laws, that purport to ban forced conversions but 
        actually are used to prevent certain religious groups from peacefully 
        persuading others to change their religion; and
Whereas USCIRF found in its 2013 Annual Report that ``states with these laws 
        have higher incidents of intimidation, harassment and violence against 
        religious minorities, particularly Christians, than states that do 
        not.'': Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) recognizes the suffering of all Indian citizens who 
        have been victims of religious violence, including the victims 
        of all faiths from the 1992 Babri Mosque riots, the 2002 
        Gujarat riots, the 2008 Odisha riots, and violence that is 
        ongoing today;
            (2) calls for religious freedom and related human rights to 
        be included in the United States-India Strategic Dialogue, and 
        for these issues to be raised directly with federal and state 
        Indian Government officials when appropriate;
            (3) shares the opinion of the United States Department of 
        State and the United States Commission on International 
        Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that the Gujarat government has not 
        adequately pursued justice for the victims of the 2002 violence 
        and remains concerned by reports from journalists and human 
        rights groups about the complicity of local officials in the 
        2002 violence;
            (4) commends the United States Government for exercising 
        its authority in 2005 under the International Religious Freedom 
        Act of 1998 to deny a United States visa to Narendra Modi on 
        the grounds of religious freedom violations, and encourages it 
        to review the applications of any individuals implicated in 
        religious freedom violations under the same standard;
            (5) commends the role of India's National Human Rights 
        Commission and the Indian Supreme Court, which has led to some 
        convictions in Gujarat riot cases and the arrest of a few high-
        level leaders in the Gujarati administration;
            (6) urges India to increase training on human rights and 
        religious freedom standards and practices for police and the 
        judiciary, particularly in states with a history or likelihood 
        of communal violence;
            (7) calls on Gujarat and other Indian states with anti-
        conversion laws to repeal such legislation and ensure freedom 
        to practice, propagate, and profess ones' religion as enshrined 
        in the Indian constitution;
            (8) urges the Government of India to empower the National 
        Commission on Minorities with enforcement mechanisms, such as 
        the ability to conduct trials and hear appeals;
            (9) encourages the establishment of an impartial body of 
        interfaith religious leaders, human rights advocates, legal 
        experts, and government officials to discuss and recommend 
        actions to promote religious tolerance and understanding; and
            (10) urges all political parties and religious 
        organizations to publicly oppose the exploitation of religious 
        differences and denounce harassment and violence against 
        religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's 
        general elections in 2014.

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