USCIRF recommends India be designated top religious freedom violator

New York:  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday recommended the Trump administration should add India to a list of countries seen by the US as “systematic and egregious violators” and sanction “Indian government agencies and officials responsible for it by freezing those individuals’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States”.

The harshest rating India has received since 2004, released in the annual report of the USCIRF, a government body charged with monitoring religious freedom abroad and the U.S. government’s response.

The watchdog agency referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the Parliament in December said that it violates religious freedom especially for Muslims and other religious minorities.

“It showed the central government’s involvement in repressing religious freedom and, of course, the consequence of that can very well be millions of Muslims in detention, deportation and statelessness when the government completes its planned national register of citizens,” USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza told Religion News Service.

The commission recommended that the State Department designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC because it “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

The list includes 14 nations that have been flagged as “countries of particular concern”. These include nine countries that the State Department designated as CPCs last December — Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — as well as five others — India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava rejected the conclusions in the report. “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”, he said.