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India calls US government commission's report on religious freedom biased

India calls US government commissions report on religious freedom biased

Arindam Bagchi.

India rejected a report by a US government commission - the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) - calling it "biased and inaccurate". The report alleged that India is stifling voices of dissent, especially those belonging to the minority communities.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the USCIRF's statements reflect a severe lack of understanding of India and its constitutional framework. He added the authors of the report do not understand India's "plurality and democratic ethos."

The Indian government's response was shared on Twitter.

He further said the USCIRF continues to misrepresent facts time and again in "pursuance of its motivated agenda". The Indian representative slammed the US body by saying such reports and statements strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organization.

The organisation recommended that the US government should impose targeted sanctions on the Indian government for "severe violations" of religious freedom by freezing those individuals' assets and barring their entry into the US.

The report was released in June and the recommendations are not binding on the US government. Similar recommendations were made in its 2020 annual report as well.

The report in question recommended the Biden Administration designate India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and 11 other nations as "countries of particular concern" in the context of religious freedom.

This is not the first time USCIRF has expressed concern about the situation of minorities in India.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava had earlier alleged the Indian government is tolerating and engaging in religious persecution of Muslims and Christians with prolific mob violence.

In 2021, the organisation asserted that the Indian government stepped up the promotion and enforcement of policies, particularly those that advance a Hindu-nationalist agenda that adversely harmed Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities.

After Teesta Setlvad and her allies were arrested by the Gujarat Police, USCIRF Commissioner David Curry wrote on Twitter that the organisation is concerned about the Indian government's continued repression of critical voices, especially of religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them.

USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck, in a subsequent tweet, said that human rights advocates, journalists, activists, and faith leaders in India face harassment for speaking out and reporting religious freedom conditions. This is not reflective of a country with a history of democracy.

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TAGS:MEA USCIRF religious freedom religious freedom in India Arindam Bagchi 
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