TDN World Desk: The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is a U.S. government watchdog group on international religious freedom, on Tuesday asked the US Government to designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations”.
In its annual report 2020, the USCIRF states, “In 2019, religious freedom conditions in India experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault. Following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) re-election in May, the national government used its strengthened parliamentary majority to institute national level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims.”
The US U.S. watchdog group lists India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC along with 13 other countries that include Burma (Myanmar), China, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia, Syria,Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam,Eritrea.
IRFA defines CPCs as countries where the government engages in or tolerates “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom under the statute, as amended by the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016 (Frank Wolf Act).
The USCIRF report took particular note of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), Supreme Court’s ruling on Babri Masjid, violence related to crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir, cow slaughter and misuse of Anti-conversion Laws and North-East Delhi violence.
“Throughout 2019, government action—including the CAA, continued enforcement of cow slaughter and anti-conversion laws, and the November Supreme Court ruling on the Babri Masjid site— created a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities.
“In August, the government also revoked the autonomy of Muslim-majority state Jammu and Kashmir and imposed restrictions that negatively impacted religious freedom,” the report points out.
The USCIRF noted the anti-Muslim bias of the Foreigners’ Tribunals officials in Assam NRC. ” The NRC process in Assam raised significant concerns: impoverished families could not present the necessary documents due to poor record keeping or illiteracy. Even with documentation, citizens were excluded because of minor inconsistencies; some were excluded despite using the same documents as included relatives.”
The report also studies over the attack on minorities, dalits by the cow-vigilantes.
“Cow protection has been promoted as a key issue by the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Lynch mobs, often organized over social media, have attacked minorities—including Muslims, Christians, and Dalits—under suspicion of eating beef, slaughtering cows, or transporting cattle for slaughter. Since the BJP came to power in 2014, there have been over 100 attacks, amounting to over 98 percent of such attacks since 2010. Lynching victims, rather than the perpetrators, are often arrested under these laws,” the report reads.
Pointing out North-East violence against the Muslim minorities, the report said, “In February 2020, three days of violence erupted in Delhi with mobs attacking Muslim neighborhoods. There were reports of Delhi police, operating under the Home Ministry’s authority, failing to halt attacks and even directly participating in the violence. At least 50 people were killed.”
The USCIRF asked the State Department to take stringent action against India suggesting five-point punitive mesures.
“Impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/ or barring their entry into the United States under human rights-related financial and visa authorities, citing specific religious freedom violations,” the USCIRF told US government.
Responding to USCIRF’s report, Indian government’s official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “Its (the USCIRF’s) biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels. It has not been able to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavour. We regard it as an organisation of particular concern and will treat it accordingly.”
At Present India is a close ally of Donald Trump government in United States.