Rejecting the report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that criticises Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), India said the panel’s “misrepresentation had reached new levels”.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “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.”
The statement came after the USCIRF flagged India as a “Country of Particular Concern” where “governments engage in or tolerate systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom”.
This is the first time since 2004 that USCIRF flagged India as a Country of Particular Concern.
Established in 1998, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyse and report on threats to religious freedom abroad.
Accusing the government of creating “a culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities”, the USCIRF called for “targeted sanctions against Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom”.
“In 2019, 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 report said.
The report also mentions the three days of violence erupted in Delhi with mobs attacking Muslim neighbourhood in February this year.
“There were reports of Delhi police, operating under the Home Ministry’s authority, failing to halt attacks and even directly participating in the violence,” it read.
However, two of the nine-member of the panel expressed dissent over the recommendation to place India in the category of “particular concern”.
“India does not belong to the same category as authoritarian regimes like China and North Korea. India is the largest democratic nation in the world, where the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) has been challenged openly by the opposition Congress Party and lawmakers, civil society, and various groups,” said Commissioner Tenzin Dorjee.
Another member Gary L Bauer, said this would place India in “a gallery of rogue nations in which it does not belong”. He said 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”.
The 14 nations that are recommended as CPC are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.