Sanctions be imposed on Indian government: US Commission

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has revealed the deteriorating condition of religious freedoms in India. The commission not only placed India into its list of ‘Country of Particular Concern’ but also recommended to impose some targeted sanctions.

religious freedoms in India

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has re-entered India into its list of ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’ because of the Modi government’s policies against the Muslims. PM Modi is infamous for curbing religious freedoms in India. The Commission appreciated Pakistan for showing ‘willingness’ to address the challenges being faced by religious minorities.

The report contains some strongly worded expressions while describing the state of religious freedoms in India. “Perhaps the steepest, and most alarming deterioration in religious freedom conditions is in India,” USCIRF Vice Chair said after the release of the Commission’s annual report.

After carefully reviewing the state of religious freedoms in India, the report also recommended 13 other countries to the State Department for designation as ‘countries of particular concern’ because their governments engage in or tolerate ‘systematic, ongoing, egregious violations’.

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The list includes nine countries that the State Department designated as CPCs in December last year, which were Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. While five others include India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.

“The Citizenship (Amendment) Act in India potentially exposes millions of Muslims to detention, deportation, and statelessness when the government completes its planned nationwide National Register of Citizens,” the Commission’s Vice-Chair, Nadine Maenza, added.

Detailing Modi government’s policies in recent months that targeted the Muslim population in particular and the state of religious freedoms in India, the report featured various BJP leader’s hateful comments against the minority population.

The report recommended the US government to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom in India by freezing those individuals’ assets and/or barring their entry into the United States under human rights-related financial and visa authorities, citing specific religious freedom violations.

However, the USCIRF Commissioner appreciated Pakistan’s efforts saying, “One of the things that have been important for us with Pakistan, is that the government has been willing to engage in dialogue about how religious freedom concerns can be addressed.”

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Instead of using its own ‘Tier 2’ category, as in past reports, the 2020 Annual report also recommended 15 countries for placement on the State Department’s Special Watch List for severe violations. These include four that the State Department placed on the list last year.

In a related development, Kuwait called on the Organisation of International Cooperation to take ‘urgent measures’ to preserve the rights of Indian Muslims.

Kuwait has sought the intervention of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to tackle anti-Muslim sentiment in India. In a statement released on Monday, the General Secretariat of the Kuwait Council of Ministers expressed his ‘deep concern’ about the treatment of Indian Muslims and called on the OIC to take ‘necessary and urgent measures’ to ‘preserve the rights of Muslims there’.

Abdullah al-Shoreka, a minister in Kuwait’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, tweeted that it was time for Muslims to speak up against the persecution of their co-religionists. “Did those who commit crimes against humanity against Muslims in India and violate their rights think that Muslims in the world will remain silent about these crimes and do not move politically, legally, and economically against them?” he said.

Now the leaders from the Muslim world are demanding OIC take up the matter and let India know that Muslims and their religion cannot be mobbed or ridiculed. The state of religious freedoms in India needs to be thoroughly reviewed, they argue.

It is worth recalling that Dr Subramanian Swamy, a senior leader of the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a member of India’s parliament, has said that Muslims are not equal citizens since they pose a threat to the world. He was speaking to journalist Isobel Yeung when he slammed over 200 million people of his own country; Muslims.

He was supposed to justify an ongoing human rights crisis in India, where Muslims are treated like second-class citizens. “On this issue, the country is with us,” he told Yeung. “Most people like our hard-line approach to solving pending problems.”

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He went on to say that “Where the Muslim population is large, there is always trouble,” which Yeung countered by pointing out that with 200 million Muslim residents, India has the second-largest Islamic population in the world. When Swamy stuck to his position, he told him that his comments sounded “like hatred,” but he said he was being “kind.”

Apoorvanand, who teaches Hindi at the University of Delhi, after looking at the state of religious freedoms in India, believes that the BJP is attempting to homogenize the diverse India which is likely to backfire. He opines that “The BJP and the RSS are trying to homogenize diverse, regional and cultural spaces and paint them with a broad Hindu brush. Slowly and gradually, they are trying to gain control over institutions – religious and cultural – by putting their people there.”


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