Responding to media queries regarding the observations, he said “This time the misrepresentation has reached new levels and USCIRF has been unable to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavor.” The government has said that “This US based organization is of particular concern and will treat it accordingly."
India has reacted strongly against the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s report (USCIRF), and has rejected the observations that the country violates religious freedoms. While rejecting the observations made on India in the USCIRF annual report, the official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava has termed the comments as “biased and tendentious’’.
Responding to media queries regarding the observations, he said “This time the misrepresentation has reached new levels and USCIRF has been unable to carry its own Commissioners in its endeavor.” The government has said that “This US based organization is of particular concern and will treat it accordingly.”
What does the USCIRF Report say?
The US panel report on Minorities has taken a harsh view of the Indian social conditions, and has in its report designated India as a `Country of particular Concern’ on religious freedom. And has put India’s name with countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia.
According to its observation the 14 countries which have been categorized as `country of particular concern’ is those countries where the governments allow or encourage violations of religious freedom.
What is USCIRF?
It is an independent federal government entity which has been set up by the US Congress and it monitors and reports on religious freedom in the world.
On India, the USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins as reportedly said “We are seeing impunity for violence by non-state actors committed against religious minorities.”
“The USCIRF, an entity set up by the US Congress to monitor religious freedom in the world, has criticized India for initiating discriminatory policy such as the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and tolerating hate-speech and violence by non-state actors against religious minorities at various levels. It placed India in the same category as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and others- a “country of particular concern,” opines Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU.
“Three of the nine members are believed to have expressed their disagreement for placing India in the category of authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia, and rogue states such as Iran and North Korea,” says the JNU professor.
According to him, “India can definitely not be placed in the category of either China or Iran on the issue of religious freedom. It goes beyond doubt that the cases of inflammatory speeches and hate crimes have increased in some parts of India. A sense of discrimination among Muslim-minority prevails following the change in status of Jammu and Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019. Having said that, however, the civil society and the opposition parties are still active in India. A number of media houses are also not embedded to the government. Hence, India cannot be placed in the category of countries where neither autonomous civil society organisations nor opposition parties exist.”
“India, however, needs to be careful because such designations will reverberate in other international forums,” he cautions. A country which takes pride in its vibrant democracy with freedom of speech and religion cannot be seen sliding on such crucial indicators.
And concludes “This report has no substantial implication for India except that it will reverberate in the liberal writings from the West and would be used by Islamic states.”
Ambassador Anil Trigunayat says “The USCIRF has again chosen to comment on India’s internal affairs accusing India of discrimination on religious grounds against minority community several times in the past without any critical evidence and merely based on heresy and fake reports and social media handles. Government of India has rightly decried the locus standi of this US outfit and taken note of its extraneous and repeated baseless comments even in its annual report . “
“They should also continue to watch its activities and outlandish statements that tend to fan the religious discord in the country .However, Indian society and agencies must ensure that no such incident occurs and quick decisive action must be taken against any perpetrator,” the Distinguished fellow, VIF suggests.
“USCIRF will do well to look and internalize their own country’s record that beats any other. The Ministry of External Affairs rightly condemned USCIRF that is now spreading misguided reports on the professional medical protocols followed to deal with spread of COVID19 in India. It must stop adding religious colour to our national goal of fighting the pandemic and distract from larger efforts. No segregation is being done in civil hospitals on the basis of religion, as clarified by the Gujarat Government,” Trigunayat adds.