USCIRF Calls For Targeted Sanctions For Religious Freedom Violations In India
Photo : The report cited the specific case of BJP member Gyan Dev Ahuja who ‘was recorded publicly calling for his listeners to “kill anyone involved in cow slaughter.”’
India-West News Desk
WASHINGTON, DC -The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the bipartisan congressional commission, has urged the Biden administration to impose “targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of the right to freedom of religion of belief.”
USCIRF has designated at least 15 nations under Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) in its 2023 report, including India. Others on the list include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Russia, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Syria, North Korea, and Tajikistan.
Among the recommendations the USCIRF has made to the US government on page 24 of the report:
“Advance human rights for all religious communities in India and promote religious freedom, dignity, and interfaith dialogue through bilateral engagement and in multilateral forums; Condemn ongoing religious freedom violations and support religious organizations and human rights groups targeted for their advocacy of religious freedom; and Impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom 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.”
To Congress, USCIRF has said, it must “Raise religious freedom issues in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship and highlight concerns through hearings, briefings, letters, and congressional delegations.”
Detailing what is wrong in India, the report said, the Indian government has “invoked the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and the Sedition Act
throughout the year to target freedom of religion and expression, creating an increasing climate of intimidation and fear. Authorities surveilled, harassed, detained, and prosecuted a number of journalists, lawyers, rights activists, and religious minorities advocating for religious freedom. Hundreds of cases remained pending against individuals for involvement in the 2019 peaceful protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).”
It must be noted the US administration does not always comply with the CIRF recommendations. India has been on the list since 2019 but has never been designated.
Experts say that Washington fears that designating New Delhi could have a serious impact and effects on the bilateral understanding between the two countries, especially in view of countering a mutual rival, China.