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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Why did India turn down a travel request for members of the US government panel?

As the USCIRF has re-entered India into its list of ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’ because of the Modi government’s policies against the Muslims, the Indian government has refused the members of a US government panel to visit the country.

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India has turned down a travel request for members of a US government panel seeking to review its religious freedom, declaring foreign agencies had no standing to assess the constitutional rights of citizens. Experts are mulling over as to why did India India turn down a travel request for members of the US government panel?

The visa snub to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Wednesday came as the US Congress released its own religious freedom report while a top Trump administration official said he was “very concerned” about the country’s situation, Al Jazeera reported.

India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the government firmly repudiated the surveys of the USCIRF, which had little knowledge of the rights of Indian citizens, describing it as “biased” and “prejudiced”.

Read More: Is India planning a ‘false flag operation’?

“We have also denied visas to USCIRF teams that have sought to visit India in connection with issues related to religious freedom,” he told a legislator from Modi’s far-right governing party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a June 1 letter.

“The step was taken because the government saw no grounds for a foreign entity such as the USCIRF to pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights,” he said, adding that India would not accept any foreign interference or judgment on matters related to its sovereignty.

Impose sanctions on India, proposes USCIRF: India turn down a travel request for members of the US government panel?

Recently, 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 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.

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’.

Read More: India’s mistreatment of minorities a threat to neighbours: PM Imran Khan

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.

Muslims are not equal citizens, Dr. Subramanian Swamy

As did India turn down a travel request for members of the US government panel, 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.”

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.”

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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.”