US Commission Criticized India’s Handling of Religious Minority; Sought Sanctions

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission created by the IRF Act of 1998, has criticized the way India has been handling the issues related to the religious minority of the country.

With the apprehension of the failure to protect religious minority especially Muslims by the Indian government, the commission called the US government to impose sanctions on those who were responsible for the violation of religious freedoms and rights.

USCIRF’s Reports of India

On Tuesday, April 28, 2020, the US commission said in its report, ever since the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected to power last year, it consistently brought various divisive policies that had affected nearly 172 million Muslims in India through propagandas of hate and violence against them.

The USCIRF also condemned the new citizenship law enacted in the parliament last year, which was considered by various legal experts as discriminatory law on the basis of religion, since Muslims were excluded while other six religious groups were granted citizenship in India.

The US commission asserted, “The national and various state governments also allowed nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities to continue with impunity, and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence against them.”

The commission added that India should be put under the category of a “country of particular concern”, due to its nature of intolerance against the religious minorities in 2019. The mentioned category, which the commission wanted India to be listed, included 14 countries including Myanmar, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Russia, and Vietnam.

The commission, although its decision is non-binding, is a bipartisan US government advisory body that monitors religious freedom abroad and makes policy recommendations to the president, the secretary of state, and Congress.

Calling for US Sanctions on India

Without identifying any agencies or officials of India, the commission also urged the U.S. government to “impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets and/ or barring their entry into the United States.”

Following the US report, the Indian government denied the commission’s claims and rejected the annual report of the organization saying that it had distorted reality to new levels. The Indian foreign ministry dismissed the findings of the commission saying it had crossed a new threshold.

Indian ministry spokesman, Anurag Srivastava said, “Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels,” adding that “It has not been able to carry its own commissioners in its endeavor. We regard it as an organization of particular concern and will treat it accordingly.”

Srivastava insisted that some members of the commission were against the findings by arguing that India, the world’s largest democracy, could not be put in the same category as China and North Korea, countries run by authoritarian regimes.

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