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MEA rejects USCIRF claims on religious freedom in the country, says US body’s misrepresentation has reached new levels

The Indian government has time-and-again rejected the one-sided prejudiced observations made by the US body. India had earlier said the American body on international religious freedom has chosen to be guided only by its biases on a matter on which it has no locus standi.

The Indian government has categorically rejected the claims made by the controversial United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its report that the central government allowed violence against minorities in the country.

Responding to the recent USCIRF report, MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava stated that the government rejected the observations in the report. Referring to the comments against India as “biased and tendentious” Srivastava said that such comments against India are “not new”, but on this occasion “its misrepresentation 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 endeavour. We regard it as an organisation of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” said MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

USCIRF Annual Report on religious freedom

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an advisory body to the US Congress, on Tuesday released its 2020 annual report, where it recommended that the Trump administration to classify India as a “country of particular concern”, along with other countries like Pakistan, North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia.

The USCIRF, claimed that India was “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing and egregious religious freedom violations”. The report also stated that the national government allowed violence against minorities and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.

The report recommended that the Trump administration should impose targeted sanctions on Indian government responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and barring their entry into the United States under human rights-related financial and visa authorities, citing specific religious freedom violations.

It recommended that the US administration “designate India as a ‘country of particular concern’, or CPC, for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)”.

Three dissenters within USCIRF

Three out of nine commissioners at the USCIRF have dissented against the commission’s claim against India and have made separate qualifying notes to the report on India.

One of the USCIRF commissioners, Gary L. Bauer, said, “I must dissent from the decision of my fellow Commissioners to recommend India, the world’s largest democracy, for designation as a ‘country of particular concern’, or CPC, placing India in a gallery of rogue nations in which it does not belong.”

He added, “The trend line on religious freedom in India is not reassuring. But 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. India is our ally.”

USCIRF’s prejudice against India

The controversial US body has always been at the forefront of the misinformation campaign against the country. Ever since Narendra Modi returned back to power in 2019, the USCIRF has been meddling into India’s internal affairs by indulging in one-sided motivated propaganda against the Modi government.

The US congressional body emerged into the scene following the abrogation of Article 370 in the country with its misleading statements and continued to do so even during the implementation of historic Citizenship Amendment Act. It is notable here that the USCIRF has a history of fanning baseless rumours and leftist propaganda against India. They had also ranted against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, calling it a ‘dangerous turn in the wrong direction’.

Ironically, the USCIRF, which claims to be standing for religious freedom and rights, resorted to peddling false propaganda against Indian government on CAA, a law which was implemented to guarantee rights in the country by granting Indian citizenship.

The Indian government has time-and-again rejected the one-sided prejudiced observations made by the US body. India had earlier said the American body on international religious freedom has chosen to be guided only by its biases on a matter on which it has no locus standi.

The USCIRF is the commission that had recommended the denial of US visa to PM Modi when he was the CM of Gujarat. It had also threatened ‘sanctions’ against Home Minister Amit Shah ‘if the CAB was passed’.

Fake news by USCIRF

Just weeks back, the self-proclaimed religious freedom body USCIRF, had indulged in a misinformation campaign by falsely claiming that coronavirus patients were being segregated on the basis of religious identity in an Ahmedabad hospital.

Citing a false propaganda report by Indian Express, the USCIRF had tweeted that it was “concerned with reports of Hindu and Muslim patients separated” into separate hospital wards in Gujarat. 

However, responding to the misinformation campaign of the Indian Express, the Gujarat government had categorically denied the claims. The Health Department of Gujarat had also clarified that no segregation is being done in the Ahmedabad civil hospital on the basis of religion for coronavirus patients.

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