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Blow to anti-Modi ‘Minorities under attack’ narrative as US rejects USCIRF comments accusing India of violating religious freedom of minorities

US State Department has rejected USCIRF recommendation to designate India as country of particular concern. It has instead designated Pakistan, China and other countries.

The US State Department has rejected the recommendation of the controversial United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to include India in the list of countries of particular concern (CPC) for alleged violation of religious freedom. The State Department has designated ten countries including China and Pakistan in the CPC list on December 7.

In response to a question as to why Pakistan was included in the CPC list and India was not, the US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Samuel Brownback had said that violation of religious freedom was carried out by the government in Pakistan which was not the case in India. “(In) Pakistan, a lot of their actions (violations of religious freedom) are done by the government. In India, some of them are done by the government and the law that was passed, and much of its communal violence. And then when that takes place, we try to determine whether or not there has been effective enforcement, judicial action after communal violence takes place”, said Brownback. He added that half of the world’s people locked in jail on the charges of blasphemy were in Pakistan’s jails.

Besides China and Pakistan, the other countries included in the list are Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The countries of Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragu and Russia have been placed in the Special Watch List (SWL) for governments in these countries have either engaged in or tolerated severe violations of religious freedom. The US has designated Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-shram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin and the Taliban as the Entities of Particular Concern’.

India rejects USCIRF observations as biased and tendentious

The USCIRF had told the US government in its 2020 annual report that religious freedom in India had experienced a ‘drastic turn downward’ and that the religious minorities in the country were under ‘increasing assault’ in 2019. The organisation had made a similar recommendation in 2004. India had rejected the USCIRF observations as biased and tendentious. The USCIRF claimed that India was “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing and egregious religious freedom violations”. It stated in the report that the Indian government allowed violence against minorities and also engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.

The USCIRF has been meddling with the internal affairs of India ever since the Modi government returned to power in 2019. It had been pushing one sided propaganda against the Modi government. In June this year, the Ministry of External Affairs had denied visas to the USCIRF teams in connection with issues relating to religious freedom. “We have denied a visa to USCIRF teams that have sought to visit India in connection with issues related to religious freedom, as we do not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”, the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had clarified.

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