Rights organisations write to US Commission seeking India’s designation as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’

New Delhi: Scores of civil rights organisations and concerned individuals have written to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and urged it to recommend that India be designated as a ”Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) by the US Department of State.

”Indeed the reasons for designating India as a CPC are more compelling now by an order of magnitude than ever before, and the situation is set to get worse without significant international pressure,” the letter said. The letter was sent days ahead of the USCIRF’s upcoming 2021 Annual Report which is scheduled to be released on April 21.

The USCIRF had last year recommended India’s designation as CPC ”for engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations, as defined under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).” Former President Donald Trump’s administration had, however, declined to designate India as CPC, claiming that India’s worsening religious freedom was due to non-state actors and not by the government.

”We hope that this letter shows that state actors are playing a central role in India’s declining religious freedom, and that the 2021 Annual Report will make this clear,” the letter said.

The letter also referred to the anti-Muslim violence that was witnessed in New Delhi in February 2020.

”In its aftermath, the Delhi Police failed to arrest the Hindu perpetrators who led the violence and insteadarrested hundreds of Muslims, accusing them of the anti-Muslim violence,” the letter said.

It said that investigations by Amnesty India and the Polis Project confirmed that the ”Delhi Police were themselves complicit and an active participant in that violence.” Yet, the Indian Government had ”refused to open any investigation” into their role. Delhi Police had also failed to arrest leaders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including two federal legislators, who had incited the violence. ”When a Delhi judge ordered that he (Mishra) be charged, the judge wastransferred overnight.”

The letter also mentioned 83-year-old Fr. Stan Swamy, a prominent Indian Jesuit priest who ails from Parkinson’s disease and has been imprisoned on the basis of tampered evidence. He has also been denied bail.

The letter also noted that India had built ”numerous detention centers” to hold hundreds of thousands, mostly Muslims, who are being targeted under CAA-NRC ”with the sole intention of turning them into foreigners in their own country. Already, the government has announced it would start the NRC soon as Covid-19 abates.”

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