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US Federal Agency Accuses India Of Deteriorating Religious Freedom Standards

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India might not be getting the US favor, even at the time of the pandemic, as the annual report by theUnited States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has singled out India accusing it of curtailing religious freedom. Terming India showing a trend of “sharp downward turn” and “deterioration” in religious freedom in India, it has enraged the Indian population.

Further, the report has recommended that the US State Department may designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC)” along with a few others.

In response, the New Delhi government has rejected the ‘biased’ report and in turn, regards the USCIRF as ‘Organisation of Particular Concern’. The USCIRF is an independent bipartisan organization that was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. It is indeed a US federal government entity that monitors, analyses, and reports on threats to religious freedom. However, it does not hold authority or power to designate any country with status but can make persuasive recommendations.

A 2019 list of nations already includes the following nations designated by the US State Department. Of the names, nine were designated in December. They include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. According to the USCIR, any government that engages in or tolerates ‘systematic, ongoing, egregious violations’ is supposed to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern or CPC.

The updated list now intends to include five more nations—India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam. India has taken on USCIRF in the past when it accused India of partiality and religious favoritism in handling the pandemic relief efforts in April and also when it was critical of the Indian Government over the riots in north-eastern Delhi in February this year. According to twitter messages shared by the USCIR, it has accused India of favoring with the Gujarat government that has apparently divided beds according to Hindus and Muslim patients, fanning disharmony on the basis of religious preferences. It was apparently siding with the Muslim population that had been accused of spreading the Coronavirus.

All these accusations have been rubbished by the New Delhi administration and termed them as work of factions to “create disharmony and disruption in the peacekeeping and nation-building efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.”

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