India rejects US Commission on Religious Freedom report

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NEW DELHI, Nov 24: Spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi on Thursday rejected as “biased and inaccurate” the report of US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which claims that religious freedom is under continuous threat in India. “We consider these biased and inaccurate observations about India by USCIRF.

They have a tendency to consistently misrepresent facts and this shows their lack of understanding of India, our constitutional framework, plurality and our robust democratic system,” he said. The USCIRF said in its special report issued on Tuesday that religious freedom conditions in India remained poor in 2022. “During the year, the Indian government at the national, state, and local levels continued to promote and enforce policies, including laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, and cow slaughter, that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis,” the US report said. It further alleged the national government of continued suppression of critical voices especially those from religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf.

The report said that surveillance, harassment, demolition of property, arbitrary travel bans, and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and by targeting nongovernmental organizations still continue. “The pilot implementation of the proposed National Register of Citizens in the state of Assam continued to exacerbate fears of losing citizenship among Muslims,” it added.

“Taken together, the manner in which government officials have enforced these policies has enabled intolerance of religious minorities and exacerbated communal divides, resulting in violence, deaths, injuries, sexual assault, destruction of property including houses of worship, arbitrary detentions, harassment including online harassment, and social boycotting of religious, scheduled caste and tribal communities,” USCIRF said. The Indian official questioned credibility of the USCIRF and accused it of pursuing a motivated agenda. “Given its past record, we are not surprised to see that USCIRF continues to be guided by its prejudices and pursues a motivated agenda that calls into question its own credibility,” Bagchi said (KUNA)

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