The United States institution to monitor religious freedom has listed India as ‘one of the countries of major concern’.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has placed India among the 14 countries designated as ‘countries of religious concern’.
The institution has alleged that religious minorities in these countries are facing serious ill-treatment.
In this regard, USCIRF urged the state department to impose ‘target sanctions’ on Indian government agencies and officials involved in such acts violating religious freedom.
The sanctions include freezing of their assets and barring their entry into the US.
In its annual report for 2020, USCIRF Chief Vice-Chair Nadine Maenza said the country has witnessed ‘perhaps the steepest and most alarming deterioration in 2019’, allowing violence, hate speech against minorities and their places of worship.
Two of the nine commissioners in the panel are against placing India in this list. They say doing this will place India in “a gallery of rogue nations in which it does not belong”.
India is “not the equivalent of communist China, which wages war on all faiths; nor of North Korea, a prison masquerading as a country; nor of Iran, whose Islamic extremist leaders regularly threaten to unleash a second Holocaust,” says Gary L Bauer, one of the commissioners.
9 of these 14 countries including Myanmar, China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have already been designated in December 2019, and put on a special watch for ‘severe violations’.
What India Said?
India is absolutely ‘not okay’ with this report and the Indian government officials called USIRF as ‘an organization of particular concern’.
Rejecting the claims, the Ministry of External Affairs said ‘the USIRF panel’s misinterpretation has reached new levels’.
“We reject the observations on India in the USCIRF Annual Report. Its 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 endeavor. We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” the Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
India has been rejecting such claims from USCIRF. Lastly in February 2020, the government said the Commission’s reports and figures on Delhi communal violence are inaccurate and misleading.
Earlier in December 2019, the Commission has also said it’s ‘deeply troubled’ by India’s Citizenship Amendment Act.