By Muhammad Luqman
A U.S. government watchdog group on international religious freedom has given India its harshest ever rating since 2004, saying the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has allowed “campaigns of harassment and violence” against Muslims and other religious minorities.
The rating came in the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government body charged with monitoring religious freedom abroad and the U.S. government’s response. USCIRF, as it is called, has no power to enforce its recommendations, but the State Department is required to consider them.
The commission recommended that the State Department designate India as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, said Nadine Maenza, its vice chair in the report made public on Tuesday saying ,it (India) “tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” The most “startling and disturbing,” she said, was India’s passage of a citizenship amendment act that fast-tracks citizenship for newcomers who belong to six religions but excludes Muslims.
“This potentially exposes millions of Muslims to detention, deportation and statelessness when the government completes its plan for a nationwide, national register,” she said.
India last received a similar rating from the watchdog in 2004, also a period of heightened concern over a Hindu nationalist government’s treatment of religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians. In 2002, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in three days of riots in the state of Gujarat.
India, which passed legislation in December last that experts say is detrimental to Muslims, should be placed on the U.S. government’s list of most egregious religious freedom violators.
“It showed the central government’s involvement in repressing religious freedom and, of course, the consequence of that can very well be millions of Muslims in detention, deportation and statelessness when the government completes its planned national register of citizens,” USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza explained in the report.
India is not currently on the U.S. State Department’s list of “countries of particular concern,” which cites nations that it determines have committed “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.” USCIRF says it is recommending for the first time since 2004 that India be given that designation.
The 104-page report chronicled the progress and failures on religious freedom in 29 countries during 2019 including India, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.
Finally even US cannot ignore the reality of the racist Hindutva Supremacist creed of the Indian govt. India declared a Country of Particular Concern for the first time by the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom.https://t.co/MCczqckfCm
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) April 28, 2020
Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Human Rights while commenting on the report has said: “Finally even US cannot ignore the reality of the racist Hindutva Supremacist creed of the Indian govt. India declared a Country of Particular Concern for the first time by the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom.”