USCIRF to hold hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20
India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country
The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has announced that it will hold a hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20.
India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country.
Coming on the heels of two successful bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden -- the Official State Visit of the Indian leader here in June and a bilateral meeting in New Delhi in September -- USCIRF in its announcement of the meeting said the Congressional hearing is on how the US government can work with the Indian government to address violations.
Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, has been invited to testify before the Commission along with Tariq Ahmed, Foreign Law Specialist, Law Library of Congress; Sarah Yager, Washington Director, Human Rights Watch; Sunita Viswanath, executive director, Hindus for Human Rights and Irfan Nooruddin, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Indian Politics at Georgetown University.
On May 2 this year, India rejected as "biased" and "motivated" a report by the USCIRF that alleged "severe violations" of religious freedom in the country.
"The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) continues to regurgitate biased and motivated comments about India, this time in its 2023 annual report. We reject such misrepresentation of facts, which only serves to discredit USCIRF itself," the Ministry of External Affairs had said.
"We would urge USCIRF to desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India, its plurality, its democratic ethos and its constitutional mechanisms," it had said.
Modi’s state visit to Washington in June reflects the close bilateral relationship between the United States and India, the USCIRF said.
“However, over the last decade, the Indian government has enacted and enforced discriminatory policies targeting religious minorities, including anti-conversion laws, cow slaughter laws, legislation granting citizenship preferences based on religion, and restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organisations,” USCIRF alleged.
“Recent trends include the eruption of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Haryana in July and targeted attacks against Christian and Jewish minorities in Manipur, highlighting the need for new strategies to mitigate violence against religious minorities in India,” it said.
Since 2020, the USCIRF has recommended that the US Department of State designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), it said.
Published: 15 Sep 2023, 7:33 PM