Greetings from the South Asia Collective! We are a network of human rights activists and organisations from across South Asia. We’ve been working since 2015 to document the condition of the region’s minorities, and to help develop capacity among grassroots-level organisations focused on minority rights and the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).



We are pleased to bring to you the 10th edition (2023/3) of our Online Bulletin, where we provide an overview of recent human rights violations against South Asia’s minorities, and other minority-related news developments. This edition covers the period between 11th June and 10th September, 2023.

Our Bulletins are put together by research & documentation teams from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

We will report on developments related to key rights enshrined in International Human Rights Law, encompassing civil & political rights, as well as economic, social, & cultural rights, and closely monitor the various abuses and violations against minorities in South Asia. Our reporting and presentation will be guided by IHRL.

While our primary focus is on religious minorities (and micro-minorities), our teams will also cover ethnic, caste, gender, and sexual minorities, as well as indigenous peoples. The Bulletins utilise both primary and secondary sources of data. Secondary sources include international and domestic media outlets, as well as other civil society-led documentation efforts. When using primary sources, we rely on victims, witnesses, and other relevant individuals. Although updates from these sources undergo internal verification, we do not disclose their details due to security reasons. We are, however, open to engaging with international accountability mechanisms. In a region where numerous abuses go unreported, our Bulletins are not intended to provide an exhaustive list of violations. Our aim is to establish a record, highlight trends, and contribute to processes aimed at awareness, prevention, and accountability.

Previous editions of the Bulletin are available here.


Highlights of the period under review

Links to country sections: Afghanistan | Bangladesh | India | Nepal | Pakistan | Sri Lanka


Vulnerable minority groups who faced continuing discrimination and marginalisation as well as fresh rights violations during the period under review included Ahmadiyyas (Bangladesh, Pakistan), Christians (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Dalits (India, Nepal), Hindus (Pakistan, Bangladesh), and Muslims (India and Sri Lanka), and Shia Muslims (Afghanistan). Women and other gender and sexual minorities, including from the aforementioned targeted groups, continued to face intersectional discrimination. Highlights from the period under review include:


  • Arbitrary deprivation of life: Instances of extra-judicial and custodial killing of minorities by state actors were reported from India, where at least 4 Muslims were killed in separate incidents while in police custody, and in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, where local civil society accused state and state-backed actors of carrying out over 40 enforced disappearances of members of the ethnic Baloch minority. In Afghanistan, several Shia Muslims were shot dead by Taliban authorities while commemorating Ashura. In Sri Lanka, a new mass grave was discovered, suspected to contain the remains of female Tamil militants from the civil war.Killings of minorities and minority advocates, including journalists, by extremist non-state actors were reported from several locations in India and Pakistan. Other instances of physical violence against minorities by non-state actors, amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, were reported from Bangladesh (Hindus), India (Muslims, Christians, Dalits), and Pakistan (Christians).
  • Ethnic cleansing: Episodes that may be characterised as ethnic cleansing of minority groups by non-state actors were reported from three provinces in India (Manipur, Haryana, Uttarakhand) and from several districts in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
  • Arbitrary detention: Instances of arbitrary detention of minorities by state actors happened on several pretexts, such as blasphemy and blasphemy-related charges (Pakistan), religious conversions (India), protesting against attacks by vigilantes (India), for journalism (Afghanistan and India), and for dissenting against the ruling regime (Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka). In Afghanistan, detentions were reported on charges such as listening to music and not wearing the hijab. In Sri Lanka, hate speech-related legal provisions were abused to arrest comedians, and a controversial pastor’s plea against potential detention re-ignited debate about blasphemy provisions.
  • Advocacy of religious hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence: Serious instances of anti-minority hate speech and incitement (‘top’ and ‘intermediate’ level, as per the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech) were reported in India (against Muslims and Christians) and Pakistan (against Christians). Less severe (‘low-level’) hate speech (against Muslims and other ethno-linguistic minorities) was reported from Nepal. In India, Hindu extremist groups conducted dozens of hate rallies and weapons distribution drives across the country, signalling escalating risk of impending future violence. In Nepal, authorities appeared to be more proactive in curbing the activities of Hindu nationalist hate speech purveyors and other extremists. In Pakistan, Muslim extremist groups continued to weaponise the country’s blasphemy laws as an instrument of persecution against Christians and Ahmadiyyas.
  • Freedom of religion or belief: Conditions for religious freedom continued to be dire in most countries. Communities whose places of worship came under physical attack included Ahmadiyyas (Pakistan), Christians (India,Nepal, Pakistan), and Muslims (India). Other restrictions on worship by minorities were reported being imposed in Afghanistan (against Shia Muslims), India (against Muslims and Christians) and in Pakistan (against Ahmadiyyas and Christians).
  • Positive developments: A High Court order in Pakistan that is expected to provide some protection for Ahmadiyya places of worship from arbitrary state action, and a Supreme Court order in Nepal has legalised the registration of marriages among members of the LGBTQ community. The implementation of both orders, however, remained sluggish.


Overall, majoritarian trends appeared to be hardening across much of the region, particularly in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continued imposing its strict interpretation of sharia, virtually erasing women and girls from public life. In India and Pakistan, violent majoritarian extremist groups continued to operate with impunity, and in fact appear to be gaining in traction. Crucial provincial and national-level elections scheduled in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh in the coming months, along with a host of upcoming religious festivals, are expected to escalate the risk of potential anti-minority violence and other forms of targeting.


Other announcements


  • The 2023 edition of SAC’s flagship annual South Asia State of Minorities (SASM) Report will examine majoritarianism in South Asia, that lies at the root of the various challenges faced by the region’s minorities. The report will contain chapters from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Ahead of the launch of the report, scheduled for February 2024, SAC is exploring interventions focusing on justice and accountability on one hand, and promoting dialogue and diversity on the other. Organisations and individuals seeking to collaborate with us in this realm are requested to email us at with suggestions and proposals.


  • The 2022 edition of the SASM Report remains available for free download here. The report focused on South Asian states’ commitment to international human rights standards.



  • SAC made a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) on the promotion of FoRB at the national and local level. The submission, which was made in response to a call for inputs ahead of the SR’s report to the General Assembly, covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. SAC’s inputs are available here.


  • On the occasion of the 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), SAC’s Afghanistan partners Human Rights Defenders Plus (HRDP) and Civil Society & Human Rights Network (CSHRN), along with other national and international allies, submitted an open letter to UN agencies on the human rights situation in the country. The letter can be viewed in its entirety here.


  • SAC’s Pakistan partner Elaine Alam co-authored an article examining the role played by ‘lower’ caste Hindu and Christian women in preventing violent inter-religious conflict in Punjab. The article can be accessed here.


  • Notable, recently-released reports detailing the current human rights situation in South Asia included:



Happy reading!

The South Asia Collective team

During the period under review, the Taliban de facto authorities in Afghanistan continued to impose their interpretation of Islamic sharia, which has particularly impacted the rights of women and girls, who have now been effectively erased from public life. Concurrently, the Taliban has also continued its crackdown on all forms of dissent. And despite being in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, Taliban authorities have continued to obstruct the work of international aid organisations.

Arbitrary deprivation of life

  • On 28th July, during Ashura commemorations in the month of Muharram, the Taliban opened fire at Shia mourners in Ghazni Two people, including a 12-year-old child ,were killed in Qalay Shuhada, while another two were killed in Nowabad. Around 30 people were injured. Reports of Shia mourners being assaulted were also received from Kabul and from Balkh province.


  • On 27th August in Qargha district in the eastern province of Laghman, a young university student was killed after de facto authorities fired indiscriminately at a vehicle, apparently for playing loud music.Playing music in public places is banned by the Taliban regime, which claims it is ‘immoral’. In July, Taliban authorities in Herat had created a huge bonfire of confiscated musical instruments.

Arbitrary detention

Taliban authorities also continued the trend of arbitrarily detaining dissidents and those it deems to be in violation of its interpretation of sharia. Those arrested during the period under review included:


  • Sabro Rezaie, a former policewoman, who was arrested along with her two sisters in June in Daikundi, on charges of ‘insulting and criticising’ the Taliban on social media. The efforts of community leaders to mediate and negotiate her release have yielded no results so far.
  • Reza Shahir, a TV journalist, who was arrested in June in Shahjoi district (Zabul), after he returned to the country from Iran to renew his visa. Shahir was reportedly tortured in custody, and released after two days.
  • Six unnamed persons in Mazar-e-Sharif (Balkh) in June, on charges of playing and listening to music.
  • A young girl in Mazar-e-Sharif (Balkh) in September, on charges of not wearing the hijab. The girl was reportedly beaten by Taliban authorities, and remained in custody at the time of writing.


Several others who had been arrested before the period under review, like human rights defender Ghulam Rasool Abdi was arrested in March, remained in custody.

Freedoms of assembly, association, and expression

  • The Taliban continued to respond to public protests with excessive force. A protest in Kabul by women owners of beauty salons, which were recently banned for being ‘un-Islamic’, came under attack in July. Taliban authorities resorted to using tasers and water cannons, in addition to firing live bullets in the air. It is estimated that the ban on beauty salons has affected the livelihoods of around sixty thousand woman, many of whom were their families’ primary breadwinners. A hairdresser in Talqan city (Talkhar) told SAC partners that Taliban authorities stationed themselves in front of her house for several days, questioning all women who entered the premises.


  • Eyewitnesses in several areas of Kabul have reported to SAC partners that Taliban authorities have set up checkpoints to arbitrarily examine the smartphones of local residents. An unknown number of locals were detained by the Taliban after their phones were checked.


  • In June, a group of women gathered in a closed space in Takhar province and protested against the Taliban’s policies, including the imposition of the mandatory hijab. The protesters also carried slogans against forced marriage.

Freedom of religion or belief

Local sources in Ghazni province reported to SAC partners that in July, the Shia Ulama Council was warned by Taliban authorities not to allow women in mosques and participate in Ashura commemorations. The Council and the family members of women were threatened with strict punishments if they disobeyed the directives.

Taliban authorities in Herat too had limited observance of Ashura to certain areas, and had issued warnings about the presence of women without hijab. The Taliban also reportedly deactivated telecommunications networks in the capital.

As mentioned in previous sections, the month of Muharram was also marked by the arbitrary killings and assault of Shia mourners.

Discrimination in access to economic, social, and cultural rights

  • Taliban authorities have continued to prevent international aid organisations from operating independently in Panjshir. The head of the Taliban’s provincial Migrants and Returnees department reiterated this stand during a meeting with representatives of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (UNOCHA).


  • Locals in Ghazni province alleged that educational centers, including foreign language centers, were closed down after Taliban authorities found that female students were present. The Taliban have banned education for girls and women above sixth grade.


  • In August, women were banned from entering the Band-i-Amir national park in Bamyan.

The past two years in Afghanistan have been marked by severe and escalating restrictions on women, minorities, civic freedoms, and human rights. The humanitarian crisis in the country remains one of the most severe in the world, and the Taliban regime remains largely unrecognised by the international community. The de facto authorities have categorically ignored their human rights obligations and continued to commit gross abuses. Given the current circumstances, the prospects for accountability remain weak.

During the period under review, Bangladesh witnessed multiple instances of religious minorities facing physical attacks and other forms of discrimination. A Hindu farmer was murdered, allegedly over a land dispute. Members of the indigenous peoples community organised protests after the convicted rapist of a minor indigenous student was granted bail. With national elections approaching, communal tensions are likely to rise, with majoritarian messaging gaining increasing traction on social media.

Arbitrary deprivation of life

On 18th August (Thursday), a 36-year-old Hindu farmer in Kalyanpur village of Lohagara upazila (Narail) was murdered, allegedly by his neighbours. According to the victim’s family, he was assaulted outside his home with a hammer and an iron rod by the members of a neighbouring family. He succumbed to his injuries later that evening while receiving treatment in hospital.

Local police alleged that the motive of the crime was likely linked a previous dispute over land. The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council expressed concern over the incident, stating that Hindus are a relatively easy target during such episodes of violence.

Torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment

Harassment of Hindu girls: Two 17-year-old Hindu school students from the Koch tribes were harassed by local miscreants in Ghatail upazila (Tangail). When one of the victims’ husband, a Bangladesh Koch Adivasi Union leader, tried to intervene, all three were physically assaulted. There have been no reports of any action being initiated against the alleged perpetrators.

Right to effective remedy

Protests seeking justice for the rape of minor girl: Thousands of locals led by members of the indigenous peoples community organised a protest in Langadu upazila (Rangamati) seeking adequate punishment for the convicted rapist of a 13-year-old girl. The rapist, the headmaster of a local high school where the victim was studying, had been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in November, 2022. However, he was granted bail in June, 2023, after agreeing to hand over 1 acre of land to the victim. Locals allege that the rapist, who has reportedly resumed his responsibilities as school headmaster upon his release, was able to secure bail due to his political connections with the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

Other developments

Impending elections and the potential for anti-minority targeting: Election years in Bangladesh have historically been marked by increasing vulnerabilities for religious minorities, with political parties often resorting to majoritarian rhetoric and pre and post-election violence against minorities commonly reported. Allegations of irregularities and voter intimidation, which have blemished the previous two national elections held in 2014 and 2019, have also been noted to have a chilling effect on minorities’ participation in the political process. With the next national elections being expected to be held in January 2024, the coming few months may prove to be a challenging time for Bangladesh’s religious minorities.

While there were no reported instances of major mass violence during the period under review, Bangladesh’s minorities continued to be easy targets in localised episodes of violence and harassment. In the past, Bangladeshi Hindus have come under attack during their religious festivals and during elections. With major Hindu festivals on the anvil, starting with Durga Puja in October and Diwali in November, and national-level elections scheduled in January 2024, the potential risk of Bangladesh’s minorities being subject to violence and other human rights violations in the coming few months remains elevated. Government authorities including the judiciary are advised to act strongly and proactively to protect the rights of the vulnerable.

During the period under review, the situation of India’s religious minorities under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government deteriorated even further. At the time of writing, episodes that may be characterised as ethnic cleansing of minorities were active in Manipur (mostly-Christian ethnic Kukis), Haryana (Muslims) and Uttarakhand (Muslims), all governed by the BJP. Across the country, the armed wings of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological forefather, continued to unleash anti-minority violence with impunity, while also mobilising personnel and weapons on a massive scale. Other, ‘everyday’ forms of communalism and anti-minority violence also continued unfettered.

Arbitrary deprivation of life

During the period under review, there were three major episodes of anti-minority mass violence:

  • Sporadic outbreaks of ethnic violence continued to be reported from Manipur. The violence has disproportionately impacted members of the predominantly Christian Kuki tribes, who have accounted for most of the approximately 160 deaths recorded so far. The BJP government in the state, which has branded the Kukis as illegal immigrants, is accused of fomenting and facilitating the violence. Evidence of widespread gang rape and other forms of sexual violence, previously unreported due to the prolonged internet blackout in place in the state, was uncovered. The ethnic division of Manipur’s population is now all but complete, with the predominantly Hindu Meitei tribes remaining in the valley region, while the Kukis have been exclusively relegated to the surrounding hill regions. A group of 18 independent UN experts expressed alarm at the continuing abuses in the region.
  • In Haryana, Muslims faced mass violence from armed Hindu extremist groups, resulting in five deaths and widespread destruction of property. The violence erupted after a provocative rally called for by BJP allies Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (BD) – and promoted by a Hindu extremist accused of the murder of two Muslim men – in Nuh district came under attack. In the Hindu extremists’ violent retaliation, two Muslims including a 19-year-old cleric were murdered, and two mosques were burned down along with dozens of Muslim-owned properties. The violence, which soon spread to nearby districts, resulted in over 3000 Muslims fleeing their homes, including in Gurugram and New Delhi. Later, the BJP-led state government in Haryana continued the trend of inflicting collective punishment on Muslims, summarily demolishing over a thousand Muslim-owned houses and businesses. Mass arrests too were reported, also overwhelmingly of Muslims. Also among those detained were Rohingya Muslim refugees, including children.The tensions in the Haryana-Delhi region also had ramifications elsewhere in the country. For instance, a village in Madhya Pradesh was reported to have barred entry to Muslim and Christian traders, in the aftermath of the Nuh violence.

Other instances of arbitrary deprivation of life reported during the period under review included:

State actors

  • In July, aboard a moving train in Maharashtra, a Hindu railway policeman shot dead three visibly-Muslim passengers, after killing his Hindu superior officer. In a video captured during the incident, the policeman was seen referring to the media’s portrayal of Muslims as being loyal to Pakistan, and praising Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath. The police initially refused to record the killings as hate crimes, despite the perpetrator’s history of harassing and threatening Muslims.
  • Separate instances of custodial killing of Muslim men were reported from Jharkhand (17th July), Rajasthan (20th July), and Delhi (23rd July). In Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, a Muslim man died shortly after he was released from police custody. In each of these cases, the families of the victims have alleged that the deaths occurred due to torture by police authorities.

Non-state actors

  • The trend of minorities being arbitrarily deprived of their life by Hindu nationalist non-state actors also continued. Instances of lynching and other similar forms of mob violence by Hindu extremist cow ‘vigilantes’ were reported from Nashik (Maharashtra – two separate incidents on 8th June and 24th June), Saran (Bihar – 28th June), Morigaon (Assam – 25th July), and Hojai (Assam – 13th August). Other lynching killings of Muslims were reported from Sitapur (UP – 18th August, following an allegation of an inter-faith relationship), and Ramgarh (Jharkhand – 22nd August).
Arbitrary detention

Instances of arbitrary detention, in addition to those referred to in previous sections, included:

  • The continuing detentions of Christian pastors across the country for allegedly facilitating religious conversions. A Christian advocacy collective documented at least 63 instances of criminal proceedings being initiated against Christians since January, 2023, with 35 pastors remaining under incarceration.
  • The arrest of eight Muslims (out of 10) for a social media post that allegedly sparked communal tensions in Patan (Gujarat).
  • The detention of a 14-year-old Muslim boy for a social media post in which he allegedly glorified Aurangzeb, a Muslim king who ruled over much of India during the Mughal era.
Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment

Instances of minorities being subject to torture and other cruel or degrading treatment by state actors included, besides torture entailed in custodial killings by police and lynchings by Hindu vigilante groups:

  • The assault in public of a Muslim cleric by police officers in Bhatkal (Karnataka) in June, and
  • The public flogging of several Muslim men by police officials in Junagadh (Gujarat), during a protest against the proposed demolition of an Islamic shrine.

Numerous instances of religious minorities facing physical attacks by non-state Hindu extremist actors were also reported. On multiple occasions [as in Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Bulandshahr (UP), Alwar (Rajasthan), Bhiwara (Rajasthan)], Muslims were assaulted and forced to chant Hindu religious slogans. Common among the list of perpetrators were alleged members of Bajrang Dal, as was the case in Khandwa (Madhya Pradesh), Solapur (Maharashtra), and other locations. And in an incident that shocked many, a 7-year-old Muslim student in Muzaffarnagar (UP) was assaulted by his classmates, one by one, at the behest of their teacher, who was seen on video referencing the child’s religious identity while directing the assault. Later, local police registered a case against a prominent fact-checker after he shared the video.

Incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence

With several crucial state-level elections scheduled in the coming months, and the national election in 2024, Hindu nationalists have kept communal tensions boiling, resorting to anti-minority rhetoric often amounting to direct incitement to violence, hostility, and discrimination, particularly in regions where the BJP stands to gain electoral benefits from religious polarisation

  • After online rumours began in Uttarakhand in May about an allegation of ‘love jihad’ (a debunked conspiracy theory alleging a large-scale plot by Muslim men to seduce and convert Hindu women, and recruit them to terror groups), Hindu extremist groups began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against local Muslims. Muslim-owned properties were marked and attacked, and posters were put up threatening Muslims to leave the area. The rampant incitement and violent attacks on Muslim properties forced multiple Muslim families to flee the state. Extremist Hindu outfits have continued their campaign to drive Muslims out of Uttarakhand.
  • Senior Hindu nationalist figures, including BJP leaders, continued making inflammatory and inciteful public speeches targeting Muslims and other minorities. Some major instances reported during the period under review included:
    • Kapil Mishra (Vice-President, BJP Delhi unit) – 3rd June, Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Perpetuating the false ‘love jihad’ narrative and inciting discrimination and hostility towards Muslims.
    • Raja Singh (former BJP legislator) – 6th June, Adilabad (Telangana): Inciting violence against Muslims, and calling for Hindus to arm themselves.
    • Suresh Chavhanke (Editor-in-Chief, Sudarshan News) – 6th June, Sangamner (Maharashtra): Inciting violence, hostility, and discrimination against Muslims. After Chavhanke’s speech, Muslim-owned shops were attacked by Hindu mobs.
    • Pragya Singh Thakur (BJP Member of Parliament) – 12th June, Bhopal (Maharashtra): Recollection of her role in the illegal destruction of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya (UP) in 1992, seeking the construction of a temple at the site.
    • Ranjit Savarkar (grandson of Hindu nationalist ideologue V.D. Savarkar) – 18th June, Panaji (Goa): Calls for boycott of trade with Muslims, and inciting discrimination and hostility.
    • Yati Narsinghanand (Head priest of Dasna Temple, UP) – 21st June, Dasna (UP): Incitement to hostility and discrimination against Muslims.
    • Munish Bhardwaj (member of Bajrang Dal) – 29th June, Ambala (Haryana): Inciting violence, hostility and discrimination against Muslims and Christians.
    • Raja Singh – 1st July, Panaji (Goa): Inciting hostility and violence against Muslims.
    • Nitesh Rane (BJP legislator) – 4th July, Malegaon (Maharashtra): Inciting violence, discrimination and hostility towards Muslims.
    • Nitesh Rane – 7th July, Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): Inciting violence, hostility and discrimination against Muslims.
  • Extremist Hindu groups continued to organise public hate rallies and marches across the country, primarily targeting Muslims. Major hate rallies were reported from Maharashtra (Pune, Satara, Sangli, Raigad, Ulwe), Goa (Panaji), Jammu (Samba), UP (Bulandshahr, Aligarh), Himachal Pradesh (Kullu, Badsar), Uttarakhand (Almora), and Madhya Pradesh (Sonkatch). Typically, these events have amplified false narratives and allegations – such as ‘love jihad’, forced conversions of Hindus, etc. – and involved slogans inciting hostility, discrimination, and violence against minorities. Apart from these, a series of anti-Muslim hate rallies were organised across northern India on 2nd August, in the wake of the violence in Haryana on 31st Organisers of such events are usually RSS affiliates like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its youth wing Bajrang Dal (BD), but have also included other extremist groups like the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and the Hindu Raksha Dal, who have also enjoyed a free rein in states governed by the BJP.
  • Extremist Hindu groups also continued to organise weapons distribution and training drives across north India, calling upon participants to prepare to ‘defend’ Hindus and Hinduism from the perceived threats posed by minorities. During the period under review, such events were reported from Gujarat (Valsad, Ahmedabad, Kutch, Surendra Nagar), UP (Bijnor, Gonda, Kanpur), Rajasthan (Fatehnagar), Madhya Pradesh (Indore), Bihar (Chhapra), Punjab (Dhuri), Haryana (Panchkula), Chhattisgarh (Mahasamund), and Delhi. Almost all of these events were organised by the VHP and the BD.
  • In June, after a tragic train accident left over 200 dead in Odisha, multiple online conspiracy theories targeted One refuted theory blamed the incident on an alleged mosque (which later turned out to be a temple) near the accident site, while another falsely blamed a Muslim railway engineer of committing the error that caused the crash.
Freedom of religion or belief

State-led efforts to target minority manifestations of faith included the issuing of ‘removal of encroachment’ notices to two mosques managed by the Waqf Board in New Delhi. The Waqf Board, which has statutory recognition, manages properties deemed by Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable.

There were also several instances of minority places of worship facing physical attacks from non-state actors:

  • During the violence in Haryana, Hindu extremists burned down several mosques, including one in Nuh and another in Gurugram. A Muslim cleric was also killed during the attack in Gurugram.
  • Earlier, in June, another mosque in Alwar (Rajasthan) was similarly attacked and burned down by Hindu extremists. A local BJP leader is among the 14 accused in the case. In a separate incident, alleged members of the Bajrang Dal vandalised an under-construction church in Kanpur (UP).Hindu extremists have also continued to target smaller Muslim shrines in several locations across the country, such as Rishikesh (Uttarakhand).

Other efforts by non-state actors to target manifestations of faith by minorities included:

  • An ongoing legal campaign by Hindu nationalist plaintiffs to ‘reclaim’ historical mosques that they claim stand upon the sites of ancient temples, spurred by the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2019 handing over the site of the illegally demolished Babri mosque in Ayodhya (UP) to Hindu parties. A similarly disputed mosque site in Varanasi (UP) is currently being surveyed following court orders. A mosque in Jalgaon (Maharashtra) is also being similarly challenged.
  • An ongoing misinformation campaign targeting halal food products, which Muslims consider permissible to eat.
Fair trial rights
  • The prolonged detention of several journalists and human rights defenders without bail under draconian laws, including anti-terror provisions, has continued. Those remaining under incarceration include, among many others, Gulfisha Fatima (student-activist, since April 2020), Umar Khalid (student-activist, since September 2020), Khurram Parvez (Kashmiri HRD, since November 2021), Fahad Shah (Kashmiri journalist, since February 2022). Sajad Gul (student and journalist, since January 2022), and Irfan Mehraj (journalist, since March 2023).
  • A recently-published report revealed that those detained in UP under the National Security Act (NSA) spent 314 days in custody on average before court hearings were completed. The NSA, which allows for the ‘preventive’ detention of suspects for up to a year without charge, continues to be abused particularly in BJP-governed states.
  • A recent report revealed that many Kashmiri political prisoners awaiting trial while being incarcerated in other states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are being denied access to their families. As many as 343 persons accused in cases registered in Kashmir have been lodged in jails outside the Union Territory.
Discrimination in access to economic, social, and cultural rights
  • The trend of BJP-led state governments using property demolitions as a collective punishment measure against Muslims continued. As detailed in previous sections, in the aftermath of the violence in Nuh (Haryana), the state government began mass demolitions of homes and businesses of those it accused of being involved in the violence. Over a thousand structures were reportedly razed to the ground. Victims, almost exclusively Muslims, alleged that they received neither notice nor adequate time to seek redress.

Similar state-led destruction of residential buildings was also reported from Madhya Pradesh, another BJP-governed state, where the homes of three Muslim teenagers accused of spitting on a Hindu religious procession in Ujjain city were summarily razed by local authorities. The demolitions in Ujjain were carried out amidst DJ and dhol (drums) music arranged by the authorities.

As detailed in the previous section on incitement, Muslim-owned businesses in several locations also faced attacks from non-state actors.

  • In Assam, Muslim families continued to be targeted by authorities in eviction drives. During the period under review, around 3000 predominantly Muslim families were uprooted from their homes by forest authorities in Darrang district. Since its re-election in May 2019, the BJP-led state government under Chief Minister Himanta Sarma has similarly evicted tens of thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims from their homes across Assam.
  • Recent reports revealed that industries in which Muslims have historically been influential continue to be targeted both by state actors as well as non-state Hindu extremist actors, putting Muslim livelihoods in peril. For example, the leather industry in UP was reported to be crippled after being singled out as polluters, with multiple tanneries shut down by authorities. Shortly after assuming power in 2017, the BJP government in the state led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had begun a similar campaign against ‘illegal’ slaughterhouses, closing down hundreds of Muslim-owned businesses. Hindu extremist groups like the Bajrang Dal continue to violently target meat shops on a regular
  • A recently-published research study shed further light on the longstanding practice of denying or restricting public services to Muslims and Dalits in ghettoised localities. The study, based on data between 2011 and 2013, revealed that Muslims are systematically disadvantaged compared to other communities, and that Muslim localities are less likely to have public schools, clinics, sewerage, water supply, and closed drains. The situation is likely to have worsened in the years since.
  • Another analysis of government data from 2019 to 2022 revealed that India’s Muslims have the lowest asset and consumption levels among all communities, and that they are disproportionately represented among the ranks of India’s poor.
Other developments
  • Restrictions on independent media: Recent developments that raise further concerns about the deteriorating circumstances for independent media in India included:
    • The shutting down of the offices and social media accounts of The Kashmir Wallah, an online news portal in Kashmir, in August. Its editor-in-chief Fahad Shah has been incarcerated on terror charges since February 2022.
    • The filing of a police complaint against Hindutva Watch, an online platform that documents anti-minority persecution. The platform’s Twitter posts are routinely subject to take-down requests by the Indian government.
  • Potential restrictions on political participation: India’s Election Commission (ECI) drafted a revised delimitation plan for the state of Assam. Experts alleged that the plan may amount to gerrymandering, with the potential to change the religious demography of electoral constituencies to the disadvantage of Muslims. A similar delimitation process was completed in Kashmir in 2022, also to the potential disadvantage of Muslim voters.

The incidents and trends documented above, which cover a period of three months, are further evidence of the persecution India’s religious minorities have faced under the BJP government, and of the failure of India’s domestic institutions to uphold the rule of law. With crucial elections on the anvil, senior Hindu nationalists have ramped up their anti-minority rhetoric, while Hindu nationalist shock troops on the ground have continued to unleash violence with impunity. Several international watchdogs, such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Early Warning Project, now classify India’s minorities as being at risk of potential mass killings. This steadily deteriorating situation demands immediate attention and concrete action from the international community. International authorities are advised to push the Indian government to fulfil its international human rights obligations and to hold the perpetrators of hate and violence accountable, ensuring that justice is served and that India’s minorities are protected from further harm.

During the period under review (11 June–10 September 2023), Dalits continued to experience discrimination, individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community encountered difficulties in registering their marriages, and certain regions of the country witnessed episodes of ethnic and religious unrest. Based on information available to us, there were no reported instances of physical integrity violations (arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, etc.) during this period.

Freedom of religion or belief

Following the circulation of a viral video on social media showing members of an indigenous community consuming beef, which is part of their traditional practice, the nation has witnessed a growing wave of unrest. This upheaval has affected Christians as well, resulting in a surge of church vandalism incidents nationwide. The most recent incident occurred on September 5, 2023, when two churches in the Nawalparasi District of Lumbini Province were attacked.

Discrimination in access to economic, social, and cultural rights

Despite legislative measures, Dalits continue to be marginalised in society, highlighting inadequate transformation of societal values.  A group of some 30 people vandalised the house of a Dalit family in Bajhang district, in the Sudurpaschim province of far-western Nepal. The act of vandalism was motivated by the fact that the Dalit family had built their home near a settlement inhabited by ‘upper-caste’ individuals.  In a case of social boycott, 10 Dalit households in Ghiring rural municipality, in Gandaki province, experienced ostracism initiated by non-Dalit community members.  The incident began when a member of the Dalit community, who had been discriminated against by a non-Dalit threatened legal action. Subsequently, locals mediated an agreement aimed at reconciliation between the two. However, after the agreement was formalised, the Dalit households were then completely shunned by the rest of the community, which the victims termed an act of revenge. Discrimination against Dalits extends to even those in positions of power. A Dalit ward member of the Baijanath rural municipality, in Lumbini province, was subjected to verbal and physical abuse.

Access to economic rights for Dalits continues to be precarious. In Dang, a landowner evicted Dalit tenants, claiming he had become ill since leasing his property to them. Similar incidents of non-Dalits refusing to sell milk and provide tenancy to Dalits were reported in Doti.

In a news report, the dilapidated condition of community schools in a Dalit community in Kaski district of Gandaki province was revealed, evidencing how Dalit children receive substandard education and are thus unable to compete with children from more privileged backgrounds.

Similarly, women from the Musahar community, a Dalit population residing in central and eastern Tarai in southern Nepal, continue to face inequalities in accessing reproductive health services. They have developed reproductive health issues due to early marriage and adolescent pregnancy but are unable to seek medical assistance due to a lack of funds, inadequate facilities and the absence of female medical personnel at the local health centre.

A lawyer made a derogatory remark against certain minority groups in a television interview; she stated that marriage between brothers and sisters is permitted in the Tamang, Magar and Muslim communities. Historically, the Khas Aryas justified their consecrated position in society through ritual purity, representing indigenous communities and other groups as impure and, as such, deeming their lower status in society karmic justice. Such remarks showcase how the false representation of indigenous communities by members of the dominant majority remains persistent. She was arrested for her remark after a complaint was lodged against her and following protests from indigenous associations. The case is now under consideration at the Kathmandu District Court.

Other developments

Political representation of Dalits
The representation of Dalits in the parliament has failed to transcend mere symbolism; multiple parliamentarians from the Dalit community have expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of deliberation on issues raised by them, both in the parliament and at the party level. They have claimed that other parliamentarians and party leaders have accused them of parochialism when raising Dalit issues.

Marriage rights for LGBTQIA+ community

Although the Supreme Court issued an interim order in June 2023 to ensure registration of marriages between members of the LGBTQIA+ community, its implementation has been sluggish. A couple, who have attempted to register their marriage for the last six years, was denied registration, with neither the Kathmandu District Court nor the Patan High Court honouring the Supreme Court’s orders. The Kathmandu District Court noted that the law allowed for the registration of marriage between a man and a woman only.

Influence of Hindu nationalist groups

  • In response to the concerns of potential ethnic and religious unrest within the city, triggered by a rally planned by Hindu religious groups in Dharan over a social media campaign advocating for cow slaughter, the Sunsari District Administration Office implemented a 24-hour prohibitory order, effective August, 25, 2023. In the wake of the order, members of various Hindu organisations were denied entry into Dharan. Faced with opposition from law enforcement, protesters gathered in a nearby town, chanting against cow slaughter and demanding penalties for offenders.
  • The Nepal Janata Party (NJP), influenced by the ideology of ‘integral Hinduism’ from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been promoting Hindu-related activities with the aim of achieving substantial success in the 2027 elections by emphasising Hindu-based agendas. Several media outlets from India, including mainstream ones, declared the NJP a new force in Nepali politics that will restore Nepal’s identity as a Hindu state, despite its absolute obscurity in Nepal itself.
  • In August, Acharya Dhirendra Shastri, popularly known as Baba Bageshwor, visited Nepal, igniting civil society outrage due to his controversial views on women and marginalised communities. His statements during the visit, in which he said that Nepal should be a Hindu state and claimed that Nepal had been a part of India, exacerbated the situation. Initially, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was slated to meet him, but cancelled amid backlash. However, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha did meet the controversial figure.

Other, positive developments

  • Muslims and Hindus celebrated Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, together in Bideha municipality in Madhesh province, making it an emblem of religious harmony and tolerance in the country. The participation of Hindus in the Tazia festival, a reenactment of the death of Hussein (prophet Muhammad’s grandson), performed during Muharram, meant there was added zeal to the celebration, as reported by Muslim members of the community.
  • Sarswati Nepali, the President of the Dalit Society Development Forum, was recognised by the US Department of State as a 2023 Global Anti-Racism Champion (GARC). She has been advocating for Dalit and minority rights for over 20 years.

The documented incidents shed light on the growing challenges faced by minority groups in Nepal—particularly Dalits, gender and sexual minorities, and religious minorities—in exercising their human rights. This is further exacerbated by the rise of political parties such as the NJP that seek to promote Hindu-related agendas.

During the period under review, Pakistan witnessed heightened political turmoil, with members of the country’s largest opposition party facing mass arrests, amid instances of mob violence and damage to public property. The political unrest has taken place amid high inflation and a looming economic crisis. Against this backdrop, Pakistan’s marginalised minority communities faced fresh violence and other forms of targeting. Journalists known for their advocacy for marginalised communities were assassinated. Punjab witnessed an alarming spike in anti-Christian sentiment and mass violence, fuelled by false accusations of blasphemy. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws continued to be an instrument of persecution against the Ahmadiyya community as well.

Arbitrary deprivation of life

Killings of journalists:

During the period under review, there were multiple instances of prominent journalists being killed by unidentified assailants. Those killed included:

  • Jan Mohammad Mahar, a senior journalist with the Kawish Television Network (KTN), who was gunned down while leaving his office premises on 13th August in Sukkur (Sindh). KTN News is renowned for its advocacy of Pashtun rights.
  • Ghulam Asghar Khand, a journalist with a Sindhi-language daily newspaper, who was shot dead outside his guest house in Khairpur (Sindh) on 7th

A Dissent Today report published in May had documented 72 instances of Pakistani journalists being attacked since 2022, including two killings and 62 instances of assault.

Enforced disappearances:

The Baloch Solidarity Committee (BSC) documented 43 instances of enforced disappearances in the month of July alone, allegedly carried out by state and state-backed actors. At least six mutilated bodies were discovered during the same period, according to the BSC report. According to the RULAC Project, Balochistan is the site of a non-international armed conflict between Pakistan and armed separatist insurgents belonging to the indigenous Baloch ethnic group. Pakistani security forces are accused of committing grave human rights abuses, including enforced disappearances, as part of its counter-insurgency efforts.

A public database maintained by an official inquiry commission now lists over 8700 cases of enforced disappearance across the country. Pakistan’s failure to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) was highlighted by as many as 17 state parties during its recently-concluded Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Other physical attacks

Pakistan also witnessed a troubling escalation of religious tensions, with the Christian community in several locations in Punjab province coming under sustained attack from Muslim extremists who continued to abuse Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. A timeline of recent events, put together with insights from SAC’s researchers on the ground, follows:

  • 16th July: In Sargodha’s predominantly Muslim Green Town settlement, provocative announcements from a mosque alleging that a Christian displayed a blasphemous poster led to tensions as local Muslims gathered to prepare for an attack on the adjacent, predominantly Christian Maryam Town settlement. After the Christians in the settlement fled en masse fearing for their safety, police forces were deployed to the area and a case was registered under blasphemy provisions against the unknown (Christian) culprit.
  • 16th August: After another alleged, unverified claim of blasphemy, mass violence ensued against Christians in Jaranwala, in multiple, glaring, ‘co-ordinated and meticulously planned’ attacks. 21 churches and hundreds of residential buildings belonging to Christians were reportedly attacked, looted, and burned down, causing thousands of Christians in Jaranwala and in neighbouring villages to flee the area. The violence in Jaranwala has caused an escalation in blasphemy allegations against Christians, who have also reported facing persistent threats, harassment, hate speech, and incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence. Hardline Islamist groups such as the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), who are accused of inciting the violence in Jaranwala, have reportedly ramped up their anti-Christian rhetoric.
  • 20th August: After local Muslims in Chak 36 NB village (Sargodha) claimed to have come across burnt pages of the Quran near a Catholic priest’s house, with an attached note referencing the events in Jaranwala, a mob started to gather in the area, causing Christians to panic and flee their homes en masse.
  • 25th August: In Chak 37 SB village (Sargodha), the local mosque broadcast another accusation of Quran burning, leading to further tensions. After protests led by TLP, local police arrested two Christian men.
  • 3rd September: a Christian pastor was shot at and wounded in Jaranwala (Punjab), after unidentified assailants accosted him and ordered him to chant Islamic verses. When the pastor refused, the attackers shot at him before fleeing the scene. Less than a week before the incident, the church the pastor was serving in had been vandalised.
  • 7th September: After a Muslim woman was accused by local Christians in Tandalianwala, Faisalabad (Punjab) of supplying narcotics in the area, the woman incited violence against local Christians over a fabricated allegation of Quran desecration. While Muslim faith leaders found the allegation to be false, local Christians were forced to temporarily relocate, fearing for their safety.
  • 7th September: A 9-year-old Christian student in Khanewal (Punjab) was assaulted by his Muslim teacher after being falsely accused of tearing a page from an Islamic Studies book. While local police later concluded that the student had not committed blasphemy, the incident further heightened apprehensions among the local Christian community, and forced his family to relocate.
Arbitrary detention
  • 8th July: A 35-year-old Christian man in Sargodha was arrested on charges of blasphemy, after he shared a social media post emphasising the prohibition of corruption according to the teachings of Islam. According to the arrested man’s family, local Muslims including the village’s Islamic cleric had denied that the post amounted to blasphemy.
  • 19th August: A Christian man in Sahiwal (Punjab) was arrested under blasphemy and terrorism charges following protests led by the TLP. The protestors had alleged that a Tik Tok video shared by the accused was blasphemous. The video in question was of the violence in Jaranwala.
Freedom of religion or belief

There were several key developments concerning the right of members of Pakistan’s beleaguered Ahmadiyya community to practice and manifest their faith:

  • Criminal cases were registered against multiple members of Ahmadiyya community for engaging in ritual animal sacrifice on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, a Muslim festival. The cases were registered under Sections 295-A (insulting religious beliefs) and Section 298-C of the PPC, despite a Supreme Court directive in 2022 that barring non-Muslims from practicing their faith within the confines of their places of worship is unconstitutional.

Positive developments:

  • On 31st August, the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued a landmark verdict restricting the application of provisions in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws – namely Section 298-B and 298-C (criminal penalties for Ahmadiyyas referring to themselves as Muslims) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) – to Ahmadiyya places of worship that pre-date the laws that were enacted in 1984. The LHC ruled that Ahmadiyya places of worship pre-dating the law cannot be forcibly altered by authorities and that their caretakers cannot be prosecuted.Given the alarming frequency with which individuals file cases against Ahmadiyyas, often at the behest of far-right religious groups, on charges of ‘outraging the feelings of Muslims’, the judgement is expected by many to provide protection to the beleaguered community’s right to practice their faith. The judgement is also expected to prevent police from razing minarets at Ahmadiyya places of worship, a pattern that has recurred this year. However, less than a week after the LHC issued its order, authorities in Shahdara Town (Lahore) partially demolished an Ahmadiyya place of worship that was reportedly constructed before 1947. A civil society group documented 28 instances so far this year of Ahmadiyyas places of worship being either attacked by radical Islamists or partially demolished by police.
  • On 24th August, a recent Christian convert to Islam filed a police complaint in Rawalpindi (Punjab) accusing his family members of desecrating the Quran. However, after the complainant failed to provide evidence substantiating his allegation, local Christian and Muslim community leaders amicably resolved the situation.

In light of the developments highlighted above, it is imperative that authorities in Pakistan take timely and decisive action to address the multi-faceted challenges facing the nation. Non-state actors accused of anti-minority violations, including those abusing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and those inciting and participating in anti-minority violence, must be held accountable for their actions. The Pakistani government is also advised to urgently prioritise efforts to protect the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), and foster an environment where minorities can practice their faith without fear or discrimination.

During the period under review, Sri Lanka recorded multiple events that sparked debate about the tensions between perceived insults to Buddhism, the country’s de facto state religion, and the freedom of expression. A newly discovered mass grave raised concerns among the marginalised Tamil community.

Arbitrary detention
  • On 28th May, Natasha Edirisooriya, a stand-up comedian, was arrested for a comedy performance that allegedly defamed and insulted Buddhism. The arrests sparked criticism from civil society and were seen by many as an attack on democratic rights and an attempt to divert public anger from the government’s austerity policies. The duo was eventually released on bail – in Edirisooriya’s case, over a month later.
  • On 6th June, Gajendra Ponnampalam, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Tamil National People’s Front (TNFP), a political alliance that represents the ethnic Tamil minority, was arrested after being accused of obstructing police officers on duty. Ponnampalam’s arrest drew attention to the systemic discrimination minorities have faced in Sri Lanka.
Enforced disappearance

On 29th June, a mass grave was discovered in the Mullaitivu Kokkuthoduvai area, igniting concerns and unease within the Tamil community amid suspicion that the remains may be of female cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The new mass grave is one of around 32 that have been identified across the country over the past 30 years. Family members of suspected victims of enforced disappearance organised protests and observances in multiple districts. A local court has allowed international organisations to observe the exhumation of the mass grave site, which began in early September.

The discovery of the new site came on the heels of a damning report by a civil society coalition detailing Sri Lanka’s troubling history of mass graves, and the lack of accountability for them.

Freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB)
  • Pastor Jerome Fernando, a self-styled ‘prophet’, filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition before the Supreme Court, seeking an order preventing his arrest by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) upon his return to the country. Fernando had raised the ire of many Buddhists with his allegedly derogatory remarks about the Buddha in a video of a sermon that had gone viral on social media, prompting Sri Lanka’s President to order a CID probe. Fernando had also allegedly insulted Islam and Hinduism in the same sermon. The controversy around Fernando is seen by some as a reactivation of Sri Lanka’s blasphemy-related legal provisions. The Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs, the cabinet ministry responsible for oversight of Sri Lanka’s de facto state religion, has announced that it is in the process of drawing up a new legislation to deal with ‘threats posed to religious unity.’ While the contours of the law remain unknown so far, the Minister has warned: ‘Due to the prioritisation of money, some people are even tempted to condemn other religions under the pretence of religious freedom. No one has the right to oppress any religion or endanger religious harmony under the guise of religious freedom. We seek to implement a new legal structure that will allow us to take legal action in this regard.’


  • Ali Sabry, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, acknowledged that the previous government’s decision to prohibit burials for Muslim victims of COVID-19 had caused pain to Sri Lanka’s Muslim community and affected its ties with the Middle East. The Sri Lankan government’s decision had been criticised by the UNHRC and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Rauff Hakem, an opposition Parliamentarian and leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, called for officials who had advised the previous government to be prosecuted for hateful conduct.
  • The Ministry of Buddhasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs announced that it would conduct a census of the assets and properties belong to all religious denominations, including Buddhist temples. Many senior Buddhist monks supported the move, but warned the government to refrain from interfering in their administration.
Other developments

Intersection of religion and gender – struggle for the rights of Muslim women

The review process of the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA) Amendment Bill encountered a significant roadblock as Muslim MPs found themselves at odds over the inclusion of female quazis (Islamic judge). Some MPs opposed appointing female quazis, while others advocated for gender-neutral qualifications, highlighting a critical debate on gender equality and the interpretation of Islamic law within the Bill’s context. Civil society members condemned the attempts to derail the reform.

The MMDA in its current form is criticised for being disproportionately male-biased, and was passed in 1951 by a legislature dominated by men.

Minorities, the military, land, archaeology, and religion

In June, President Wickremesinghe appointed a committee to investigate land ownership claims concerning two Buddhist temples – Kurundi Vihara in Mullathivu and Thiriyaya Vihara in Trincomalee. These temples purportedly possessed large tracts of land, raising question about historical land distribution compared to the well-established Mahavira, a central Buddhist institution in Sri Lanka.

The President also ordered the cessation of land acquisitions and the construction of new Buddhist shrines in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. These directives aimed to address disputes over land ownership, particularly near Kurundi Vihara, where resettled farmers faced challenges from the Archaeology Department.

These land disputes have generated inter-communal tensions. In August, the Eastern Province Governor suspended the construction of a Buddhist temple on state-owned land within a Tamil village to prevent potential communal conflicts.

The entry of Tamil National People’s Front (TNFP) leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam into the Kurundi temple added to the unrest. Furthermore, controversial statements by former Minister Mervyn Silva raised further worries about inter-community discord.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) expressed alarm over the turmoil in Trincomalee, cautioning that persistent tensions could imperil foreign investments in the region. TNA leader R Sampanthan stressed the need to preserve the social environment while maintaining Buddhist monuments at the site.

Struggles of Malaiyaha Tamils

In August, President Wickremesinghe agreed to establish a Presidential Task Force to address the challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s plantation communities, and to use an Indian grant of Rs. 3 billion (around $ 9.3 million) towards bettering their livelihood.

Opposition alliance proposes LGBTQI reforms

A committee appointed by the opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance proposed reforms to decriminalise the LGBTQI community, handing over the proposed policy document to the Leader of Opposition. In May, a Supreme Court (SC) Special Directive (SD) had cleared the way for potential decriminalisation in the future.