India

USCIRF flags India for lack of religious freedom; demanding action

USCIRF- a US government entity for religious freedom sees India as a country of " particular concern " & “continued their( India's) negative trajectory " regarding freedom to practice one's religion. Can have a negative impact on US policies towards India.

A US governmental body that oversees and rates countries according to religious freedom-United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that India be designated as a “country of particular concern (CPC)” for the second consecutive year.

The report is non-binding to the US government though and the same proposal to designate India as CPC was not accepted by the Trump administration last year, though one is not sure if the same thing will be done by the new Biden led administration. The MEA too had last year dismissed the report and not accepted it saying it has “no local standi. “

If accepted this time India could face economic sanctions, which can be disastrous as India is already facing a recession due to the Pandemic and can bring International shame.

If India gets designated as a CPC, then it will join the ranks of countries like Pakistan, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia etc. An unwanted company for a country that aspires to be superpower.

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The countires mentioned by the report as CPC.

The report states that:
The government, led by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), promoted Hindu nationalist policies resulting in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

The report lays down the following points:

  1. It accuses the CAA law of being discriminatory against Islam and as a tool to weaponize citizenship which has the potential for atrocities.
  2. It passes on a judgement on the 2020 Delhi riots saying it was planned and targeted at the Islamic community where Hindu nationalists were given impunity to use brutal force against the minorities.
  3. It flags the anti-love Jihad law to be discriminatory against inter-faith couples and also condemns the acquittal of politicians in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
  4. It condemns the targeting of Amnesty international by the FRCA law.

The following steps are recommended by it to the US government:

  1. To Condemn the human rights violation and to designate India as CPC.
  2. To impose sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for Human rights violation and to Barr their entry into US.
  3. To raise concerns regarding the same in India-US bilateral forums and multilateral forums like quad.

Though one open-source information calls the body as being biased towards Islamist bodies like Jamaat-e-Islami and various other terror organizations. The link for the same is provided though it is not a verified source.

PM Modi’s led government for long has been accused for persecuting minorities in turn harming the religious freedom in a diverse country like India-Cow lynchings, Kashmir curfew, attack on Churches, passing of controversial laws like CAA, balming the spread of Pandemic on Islamic relgious organization Tablighi Jammat are some of the prime examples.

Though not all are true with some even being fake news and having international backing to bring down the image of India, but all are not false and cannot be simply thrown into the dustbin. There are some legitimate concerns like that of cow lynchings and attack on Nuns/Churhces. Even star cricketers like Irfan Pathan have been attacked by religious fundamentalists.

Just late last month, Nuns travelling in a train were harrased by ABVP members ( the ruling parties youth wing ) and were forced to get down at a station due to the fear of them ” converting ” local people.

Even the smallest religious minority in India the Jains who form a minisule part of the population while contributing to the economy the most, faced an attack on their religious symbols by ABVP in Baghpat, UP. Statues of their Godess was desecrated, though the government condemed it later but an attack on the most peacufuel commuity in India at the first place is not at all accpetbale.

In Banglore too Jains were attacked for using Hindi when Kannada is the majority language of the state. This was not even a ticker headline in the national media and was convinetly ignored.

Also, there were reports of Hindu temples and idols being desecrated in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Last year, Hindu religious godmen- Sadhus were lynched in the presence of police by alleged communists on the false pretext of theft and child Kidnapping. No justice has been delivered to them still with the Maharashtra government being indifferent to it.

Though this report has mostly concerns for the largest minority group which are valid and cannot be dismmised, it fails to adress the other religious groups. Religious discrimination against any religion must be condemned in a bi-partisian approach and there must be freedom to criticize relgions decently in democracies. This report fails to address the other religious minorities of India like Jains, Chrisitians etc. Also, there has been persecution of the Majority community too which finds no mention in the report.

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