United States religious body demands to designate India as a ‘country of particular concern’

New York: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a governmental body, has called for designating India as a country of particular concern for three consecutive years. USCIRF’s latest report states that in 2021, “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 Human Rights body had furthered that Indian government had “continued to systemize its ideological vision of a Hindu state by enforcing existing laws and creating new ones to structurally change the state, resulting in increasing hostility faced by the country’s religious minorities”. USCIRF report described the use of laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Sedition Law “to create an increasing climate of intimidation and fear in an effort to silence anyone speaking out against the government”.

USCIRF report outlines emblematic cases of Indian government’s repression, including the Jesuit human rights defender Father Stan Swamy and the Muslim Human Rights advocate Khurram Parvez.” US Human Rights body also outlined that there were “numerous examples of Indian government criminalizing, harassing & repressing interfaith couples and converts from Hinduism to Christianity or Islam.”

USCIRF’s criticism of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Registry of Citizens for Indian Muslims, deeming them a “severe risk” for Indian Muslims, “including the possibility of rendering millions stateless or subject to indefinite detention.” The report further added that “in 2021, numerous attacks were made on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians and their neighbourhoods, businesses, homes and houses of worship. Many of these incidents were violent, unprovoked, and/or encouraged or incited by government officials.” The report cited an Oxfam India study conducted in 2021, which found that one third of Indian Muslims reported discriminatory treatment at hospitals during the Covid–19.

The report is an eye-opener for international community as well as people/ organizations working to promote freedom of expression and equality in the world. They must protest against India over its policies to suppress its minorities as well as sane media voices. Web Desk

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