The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged the State Department to designate India as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for its “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations” of religious liberty.
In its 2022 report released this week, the USCIRF asserted that during the year 2021, “the Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies — including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda — that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities.”
“The government continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu state at both the national and state levels through the use of both existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities,” the report continued.
In the course of the year, the Indian government “repressed critical voices — especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them — through harassment, investigation, detention, and prosecution under laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Sedition Law,” it declared.
Indian media were quick to denounce the report of the “India-hating USCIRF,” insisting that the document was a propaganda tool aiming to “poison India’s ties with the U.S.”
“Independent observers point to the similarity in USCIRF’s India ‘findings’ with the propaganda spread by groups and individuals known to be working for Pakistan,” accused Abhinandan Mishra writing for the Sunday Guardian Live.
Findings of the USCIRF “are rarely taken seriously in India because of its ‘biased’ reports and are dismissed by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) tersely,” the article asserts, and its call to put India on the list of CPCs “shows how influential the anti-India lobby in the US has become in the last few years and the resources that are being spent to generate anti-India sentiments in Western countries.”
A similar article in Republic World alleged that the USCIRF “has made it a trend to propagate a global anti-India narrative,” while also denouncing a worldwide “anti-India plot” of which the Commission would be a part.
In its 2022 report, the bipartisan USCIRF said that the UAPA and Sedition Law “have been invoked to create an increasing climate of intimidation and fear in an effort to silence anyone speaking out against the government.”
The government has harassed and arrested journalists, Christian pastors, and human rights advocates “documenting religious persecution and violence,” and “broadly targeted” individuals documenting or sharing information about violence against religious minorities.”
Moreover, in 2021, “numerous attacks were made on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, and their neighborhoods, businesses, homes, and houses of worship,” the report stated. “Many of these incidents were violent, unprovoked, and/or encouraged or incited by government officials.”
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