The 2018 International Religious Freedom Report by the US State Department also alleged that some senior officials of the ruling BJP made inflammatory speeches against minority communities. It said 18 such mob attacks were reported as of November 2018 and eight people were killed during the year.
The report cited data presented by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs in the Lok Sabha on February 6, which showed that communal incidents had increased 9% from 2015 to 2017, with 822 incidents resulting in 111 deaths and 2,384 injuries in 2017. “Authorities often failed to prosecute perpetrators of ‘cow vigilante’ attacks, which included killings, mob violence, and intimidation,” the report said.
The State Department said central and state governments and members of political parties also took steps that “affected Muslim practices and institutions”. “Proposals to rename Indian cities with Muslim provenance continued, most notably the renaming of Allahabad to Prayagraj,” it said in the report. “Activists said these proposals were designed to erase Muslim contributions to Indian history and had led to increased communal tensions.”
The report added that the Indian government continued to challenge in the Supreme Court the minority status of Muslim educational institutions, which affords them independence in hiring and curriculum decisions. It also mentioned the lynching of Rakbar Khan in Alwar, Rajasthan, the violence that broke out in Bulandshahr over rumours of cow slaughter.