Religious freedom and related human rights in India under constant threat: USCIRF

Reiterates call to designate India as ‘country of particular concern’

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), religious freedom and related human rights in India are under constant threat for a variety of reasons, including various government policies that fail to protect religious minorities.

In a new India update released on Nov. 22, the bipartisan federal commission reiterated its recommendation made in its 2022 annual report that the U.S. Department of State designate India as a “Country of Special Concern,” or CPC. .

Read: USCIRF accuses India of violating religious freedom (April 26, 2022)

The CPC designation is given to the worst offenders “for committing or condoning systematic, continuous, and gross violations of religious freedom as provided for in international religious freedom law.”

“Such a designation would heighten U.S. concern about the conditions discussed in this country update and encourage the Indian government to move away from policies that violate religious freedom and foster communal divisions,” he said. he declares.

The update on religious freedom conditions in India in 2021 and 2022 alleged that “various policies adopted and implemented by the Indian government have cultivated an increasingly hostile environment for minority religious communities.”

“This trajectory, alongside an escalation of government repression against civil society and dissent, is deeply alarming in a diverse, secular, and democratic country whose constitution seeks to protect religious freedom,” he said.

Read: US rights groups call on USCIRF to name India for persecution of minorities (April 12, 2022)

“In 2022, religious freedom conditions in India remained poor,” USCIRF said. “During the year, the Indian government at the national, state and local levels continued to promote and implement policies, including laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relations and cow slaughter, which affect negatively Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis (scheduled indigenous and tribal peoples).

“The national government has also continued to crack down on critical voices, especially religious minorities and those advocating for their interests, including through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property, arbitrary travel bans and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and targeting non-governmental organizations. organizations (NGOs) under the Financial Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA),” the report said.

Read: Human rights related to religious freedom under threat in India: USCIRF report (November 24, 2022)

The pilot implementation of the National Citizens Registry (NRC) project in the state of Assam has continued to heighten fears of losing citizenship among Muslims, who lack protection under the 2019 Citizenship Act. Citizenship (Amendment) (CAA), as per update.

“Overall, the manner in which government officials have implemented these policies has enabled intolerance against religious minorities and exacerbated community divisions, leading to violence, death, injury, sexual assault, destruction property, including places of worship, arbitrary detention, harassment, including online. harassment and social boycott of religious communities, scheduled castes and tribal communities,” he said.

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