The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended that India be put on a blacklist of countries that have violated the religious freedom and rights of their citizens.
The USCIRF in its annual report has recommended that India be re-designated as a “country of particular concern” because of the policies of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government that targets religious minorities, specifically the Indian Muslim community.
The report also included recommendations of 13 other countries to be added to the list including China, Iran, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Russia, North Korea, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and Syria. Some of these countries were already recommended to be put on the list in December last year.
They pointed out the recent New Delhi incident where many Muslims lost their lives and the fact that India has seen a “drastic turn downwards” in 2019 when it comes to religious freedom with many instances of assault on the country’s Muslim community.
The report by the USCIRF also took notice and concern over the BJP’s decision to implement their controversial citizenship law allowing non-Muslims within the country and even those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to be fast-tracked for citizenship.
This resulted in nationwide protests where the Muslim community faced a violent response from the Hindu majority community and even from the police itself and many lost their lives in the process.
These protests were on-going during visit of the US President Donald Trump to India in February to which he just responded that these were an internal matter of India and did not show any form of criticism of their citizenship law.
The USCIRF even cited enforcement laws involving slaughter cows and the Supreme Court ruling back in November that combined to create a “culture of impunity for nationwide campaigns of harassment and violence against religious minorities.”
However, the USCIRF report has angered India and their spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastava said:
The commission’s biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels. 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,